Week 3 – Nobody Wants to Work Anymore!

I really enjoyed this week’s readings and discussion on the generational and cultural considerations that should be made when thinking about digital and media literacy. I think that the discussions we had in class and the posted readings and resources demonstrate the often foolish endeavor of generational generalizations – an endeavor that does a great disservice to both teachers and students alike.

The article “The Persistent Myth of the Narcissistic Millennial” was really well constructed. I thought it did a great job of disproving these generational generalizations that have become far too common place. Specifically, the article points to the idea that many of the studies and research used to justify false claims about millennials (and other generations for that matter) are simply doing bad science. For instance, I can’t stop thinking about a major flaw in the methodology of not only this weak research but also popular thought – and that flaw is that from my perspective, ALL young people are narcissists. It’s baked into the system! Young people of any generation deal with psychological complexes such as the spotlight effect that distort their thinking and alter their behaviour. This is not a generational problem, this is older people looking at younger people behaving as young people tend to do and lacking the hindsight and self-awareness to realize what’s really going on.

In our class discussion this week one of the generational stereotypes that we lamented was the oft brought up trope of millennials/gen z being lazy. The classic line we hear again and again: “nobody wants to work anymore!”

Nobody Wants to Work Anymore' Meme Cites Real Newspaper Articles |  Snopes.com

This leads me to one the questions asked on our course page this week regarding the future of education and our future generations of students. We are asked to consider what world we are preparing our students for. When I think of the false idea of laziness discussed above, I can’t help but think – if this was true, and nobody did want to work anymore – who could blame them?

Modernity’s punishing effects on the working class through the capitalist system mean many of us experience doing more work for less compensation. Our students, just like generations before them dating back to Gen X, face a future of economic uncertainty that will most likely lead to them being in a financial situation that is worse off than their parents’ generation, a story we have heard before. In addition, Ethan Mollick’s article on the role of artificial intelligence in the workforce places even greater question marks on the future our current students have to face. If “consultants using ChatGPT-4 outperformed those who did not, by a lot” (Mollick, 2023), who can tell what the role of even more advanced artificial intelligence in five to ten years time will be. And what will that leave for our students?

To be clear – I am not suggesting that our education system should be looked at as simply a student-to-worker pipeline. I feel very strongly in the opposite direction. However, a simple look at our curriculum and the priorities of our leadership tells us this is what many of those in authority positions see education as. And if this is the case, what is the place for all of these potential “workers” in an AI future?

As a side note: check out this part of a video from Tom Scott discussing where we are on the “curve” of AI technology, and why that can be hard to predict. Are we somewhere near the peak of what AI is capable of? Or are we merely at the beginning of a long acceleration in AI enhancement?

As I begin preparations for my content catalyst assignment, I am choosing specifically to look at the future of what we call “media literacy”. The question on our course page regarding proper citizenship in the future has me thinking even more about the idea of media literacy in the emerging future. The discussions we’ve been having around generational ideas reinforces the ideas set forth in the various “future of education” readings posted this week. While we look to the future and grasp at answers, the best we can do is cast out educated guesses and hope for the best. Were many educators concerned about the rise of AI and its implications for education even a mere five years ago? It doesn’t seem so. What horizons lay ahead that are just out of our collective vision?



4 thoughts on “Week 3 – Nobody Wants to Work Anymore!

  1. Hi Cole,
    I really appreciate you sharing the video from Tom Scott. I think we are at the “Napster curve” of AI; however, I am not sure it will be transformative and change everything. I am hoping it will. But I kind of doubt it. Napster did not signal the end of the music industry. It signaled a change in how music companies and radios control what music is produced. They are still making billions of dollars off of artists, so what has really changed? I think the same trajectory is going to be seen in education with AI. It is going to cause some crazy shockwaves in education, but school is still going to look like school – the place where we are more worried about control and enculturation than we are about learning. AI is probably just going to be a tool to help us be better at it.

  2. I think you hit the nail on the head when you discussed the declining economic opportunities for our students. People aren’t lazy, but it is extremely difficult for our students to be motivated when the system won’t let them get ahead. Corporate profits are skyrocketing while wages and benefits have stagnated or regressed. Is it any wonder that young people have little enthusiasm for a system that doesn’t respect them or treat them with basic human dignity? I worry that the future of work will look increasingly like Amazon warehouses with people putting in ridiculous hours just to turn around and feed their paychecks back into the system. If they can lighten their load through the use of technology who can blame them?

  3. You highlight some important points about generational stereotypes in your post. The stereotype of laziness among millennials is an unfair characterization that overlooks the economic uncertainty and shifting job landscape and this issue becomes even more complex with the increasing influence of AI in the workforce. I agree that we tend to pass judgement on the younger generations, forgetting how we were in our younger years. How often do we hear people say, “Kids these days…” or “When I was your age…”? We need to consider that we’re remembering our own childhood through the eyes of a child, just as we remember our years as young adults in an almost romanticized version. I’m sure when every generation entered the workforce, there was a generation before them rolling their eyes and reminiscing on how much harder they had it. Thanks for your great insights!

  4. In the current generation, “life is easy.” Just one click away, everything has already worked for them, especially AI’s as one of the trending job and education partners. sad to say they do not even have to think really hard for their homework essays, research, etc. But in the adult years, when we do our homework in our grade school, he has to think hard and research every book in the library without technology assistance. Nice reflection


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