By Darren Iammarino

Millennials are a unique group. If you are a Baby Boomer or a Gen X’er you probably find it difficult to relate to today’s youth. I was born in 1981, in a gray area between Gen X and the Millennials and therefore, I feel that I have the unique advantage of being able to translate and navigate the intergenerational gap. I have also been a college professor for the last five years, teaching nothing but thousands of 18-25 year olds. These two unusual circumstances—my age, 34, and my lecture hall teaching—have afforded me some valuable and surprising insights about those under 30. Here is what I have learned…

  • Eliminate pointless, complicated, or “uncool” ed-tech (e.g. most of the app based or web based “added value” products created by the big boys, Pearson and McGraw Hill etc.) Students view them—correctly—as superfluous and just there to up the cost of the books.
  • Don’t be fooled, it is not all about technology for Millennials…stick to low tech and no tech. Millennials seem to believe that when you write something on the board as opposed to a PowerPoint or video, that it is more likely to be important and “on the test.”
  • Do use podcasts and audio lessons…they all have ear buds in already and they love audio files, which are: portable, repeatable, affordable, and sustainable.
  • Millennials expect to be entertained while being educated, so highlight the shocking, bizarre, and unexpected aspects of your field whenever possible.
  • Employ high impact and memorable one-liner quotes.
  • A powerful, motivational, first day and last day speech full of universal and timeless themes speaks just as well to Millennials as it would to you or I.

Below is the micro-lecture/speech that I give on the first day of school in almost all of my classes. I feel that this speech is a good example of what I mean by high impact one-liners and moving or motivational themes.

Speech For My First Day of Classes

What do human beings really want from life? Is it the old Hedonistic Motto: get things, know people, go places? Will this bring fulfillment? Ha, not likely, can you think of one person who stopped at their first million dollars? One perpetual bachelor who only dated one woman? One person who traveled to one foreign country and then never travelled again? The answer is of course, NO. All of these things are external and material. In and of themselves they are absolutely NOT bad or evil. However, there is more to life than these pursuits.

People can never get enough of what they don’t really want. So, what do we really want then? Happiness…right?

But, how can we find happiness? Well, it ultimately cannot be found in the realm of the senses, in the material realm. If it is to be found there then we will always be chasing happiness due to the fact that all things are impermanent and changing. True happiness is not mere gratification; it is that which engages the greatest parts of your being. It must be found somewhere deep within you. Wonder is your guide, but wonder is crushed by the demands of society.

The death of wonder is the birth of sorrow. Why…because wonder illuminates the way towards destiny.

You cannot fail your fate, but you can most certainly fail to achieve your destiny. Your destiny is a destination that you co-create throughout time, but while it is in front of you, like all destinations, you can become lost and fall off the path. I do not want this to happen to any of you in here. It has been said that you should make your life a mission, not an intermission. I could not agree more. A life lived in limbo is a life lost. So, choose wisely!

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