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Remember Eddie Haskell?

Posted By: Edward Glenn on September 22, 2003
All generations have attempted to carve out a niche for themselves by rebelling against the rules, regulations, styles, and formulae of the previous generation. Even the pride in informality, which Ms. Lombard ascribes to this generation, is a hallmark of almost every new generation. From the generation of the Roaring 20's, to The Beat Generation, to The Boomers, to The X'ers, all generations take pride in their new vocabulary, new forms of expression, and new ways of doing things. And almost axiomatically, the previous generation feels threatened, feels that the world is coming to an end, etc.

However, eventually, most of these young people grow up, get jobs, and begin communicating with a variety of people both inside and outside their peer group, and eventually, they understand the need to find a lingua franca beyond slang and come to understand the need for some form of standardization and some rules, both in their language and in their interpersonal interactions. Anarchy only works when you are completely alone or everyone already shares your values and views.

That the current college-age generation is seeking its own voice and its own way in the world IS something to celebrate, but our responsibility as educators, as people who are, unfortunately, no longer "young people" in the sense implied by Ms. Lombard, is to help these people channel these new ideas into forms that connect them to the generations that have gone before and allow them to become adults who can communicate and function as responsible human beings, not just members of a particular generation or peer group.

Edward Glenn
Associate Professor English
Miami Dade College
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 Remember Eddie Haskell? by Edward Glenn on September 22, 2003
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