Generation Y children are 'harder to teach'

A culture of "instant gratification" is making today's schoolchildren harder to teach, a headteachers' leader said yesterday.

Youngsters live in a world dominated by reality television and celebrities "where success appears to come instantly and without any real effort", John Dunford, the general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, which represents secondary school heads, told his annual conference in London. "It is difficult for teachers to compete," he added. "Success in learning just doesn't come fast enough."

Dr Dunford cited research showing children spent a daily average of 1.7 hours online, 1.5 hours on computer gaming and 2.7 hours on watching television. "Against this background, the job of the teacher is immensely harder than it was even ten years ago," he said. "To engage the impatient young people of Generation Y, something more is needed."

He said children needed to be encouraged to use the skills they had developed to do more independent learning. Young people did not need to learn more but learn better, he said. "We have to move from dependent learning to independent learning." He cited a report from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development which said "teachers need to be capable of preparing students for a society and an economy in which they will be expected to be self-directed learners, able and motivated to keep learning over a lifetime."