Generation Z at school

Friday, April 29, 2016

How well are our 19th Century Institutions connecting with 21st Century Students?

‘Schools are 19th Century institutions using 20th Century buildings to teach 21st Century students and we wonder why traditional education sometimes struggle to connect. So if they don’t learn the way we teach, then let’s teach the way we learn.’ – Mark McCrindle

The children of Australia are today’s students and tomorrow’s employees. And while each generation has passed through the student lifestage, Generation Z are the only ones to have done so in the 21st Century. They can be defined as being post-linear, post-literate, and post-logical.

They have been born into a time that has seen the printed word morph into an electronic form. Ironically, today an electronic document is perceived to have more currency, and therefore accuracy, than the printed page. Books give way to YouTube videos. The written word is replaced by icons and images. Education is shifting from structured classrooms to collaborative means, from textbooks to tablets and from reports to infographics and video presentations. Words in this global era are progressively replaced with symbols or universal icons. They have been labelled generation glass because it is this medium that communicates content: glass you don’t just look through but look at, and wear and carry and interact with.

Characteristics of today's learners

Post linear

While schools structure learning by subject, Generations Z live life in a hyperlinked world. For digital natives it is not a subject but a lifestyle. Teachers deliver formal lessons, yet students are experiential and participative. We test academic knowledge and memory in examinations yet they, with the always-on Internet, are living in an open-book world, only ever a few clicks away from any piece of information on the planet.

Generation Z and the emerging Generation Alpha are also the most technologically literate and socially empowered generation of children ever. They are highly intuitive and confident users of digital technology, with Facebook having been around more than a decade, and iPhones, iPads, apps and social media having been available to them from their formative years.

There are 4.5 million reasons to engage Generation Z, the students of today and university graduates, employees and leaders of tomorrow. What’s more, the future of education depends on understanding and engaging with these 21st century learners. In order to fulfil the demand for labour and to ensure the future of our employment sector, our education system will need to adapt to and accommodate the learning styles of today’s students.

Post literate

Note we use the term post-literate, not illiterate. They are writing more (emails) and sending more (text) messages, just in ways different to previous generations. The issue is that literate forms of communication alone just won’t connect in today’s visual world. Today’s learners are a multi-modal generation and therefore demand communication styles that engage multiple learning channels. While the chalk and talk teaching approach was the only style on offer in previous generations, this structured approach to classroom communication is far less engaging for today’s technologically savvy, multi-media, post-structured learners. Though many complain about the short attention spans of today’s youth, this is mainly exhibited in the context of old methods of teaching that largely involve passive models of communication.

Post logical

The language of today’s learners is one that communicates content as well as being exciting, social and creative. They value visual and interactive communication with quick and easy access to information. This is in distinct contrast to perception of the education system where learning and fun are seen as mutually exclusive. Learning must not just be an academic exercise- of logic and rationale, but a development experience- of social, emotional and visceral connection as well. The point is that students have changed, so approaches to teaching need to change as well.

Engaging with today's learners

It is excellent to see that schools and classrooms are responding effectively to these changing learning styles through the implementation of learning stations, shifting from ‘teacher’ to facilitator’, managing more group work, providing real world case studies, outdoor education and teaching through activity-based learning. This, to the credit of schools is how they’ve been able to engage with changing learner needs while maintaining educational excellence. That said, there are still more changes to be made. According to our survey on parents’ opinions on education, over 90 per cent would like to see schools work harder at engaging with students and making learning interesting.

Traditionally, children were pre-formatted to learn within a structured environment, having spent their preschool years in a household where formative character was set through routine, compliance and training. However, increasingly, many children enter formal schooling without such a background and when such a student does not complete year 12, it is said that ‘they failed school’ when actually ‘their school experience failed them’.

While in the past parents, extended family, Sunday school and the Scouts or sports teams all had a role in developing the character, values and socialisation skills of the child, today parents are juggling increasingly complex roles and the average young person is less connected with other formative institutions. Schools are increasingly the one social bottleneck through which young people pass and so have a key role of developing the whole person. That is, in addition to its academic aims, the education system is expected to develop people skills, character formation, life skills and resilience.

The four R's


Not only must our communication style be credible, but we must be credible also. This generation doesn’t expect us to know all about their lifestyle, nor do they want us to embrace their culture. They are simply seeking understanding and respect. If we are less than transparent, it will be seen.


Both the content and style in which we deliver it must be relevant to a generation which is visually educated and entertained. There is no point in going to a friend’s movie night with a rented DVD if they only have a streaming service. Similarly, we must communicate in the most appropriate format for those we are reaching. So in understanding the communication styles of our students we will be better equipped to reach them.


Education can either be teacher-centric (traditional), curriculum targeted (with a predominate focus on state-wide testing) or learner focused (responsive to their learning styles and needs).

In a generation education has moved from ‘classes’ to individual learning plans. As part of the shift from students confirming to the system to education responding to the changing times, needs and learners.


The old saying in education circles still rings true for today’s students: ‘they don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care!’ Communicating to this generation requires more than just good content and new technology – it needs engagement and involvement. The more we create an environment conductive to engaging with the head (knowledge), hands (application) and heart (inspiration), the more likely they learning will be embedded, opportunities enlarged and futures shaped.

Listen to Mark McCrindle on 2SER talking about the 21st Century classroom

McCrindle Education Services

For more information on our education services, including research and providing content and presentations for School Professional Development Days, Executive Staff Sessions and Parents Evenings, please refer to our Education Pack below, or get in touch - we'd love to hear from you!

P: 02 8824 3422


McCrindle in the Media

Friday, December 18, 2015

As Australia’s leading social researchers, the senior research team at McCrindle are actively involved in media commentary. From demographic analysis and future forecasts, to communication of key research findings and the identification of social trends, at McCrindle we are passionate about communicating insights in clear, accessible and useable ways.

Here are some of the most recent media pieces our research and team have been cited in:

Generation Alpha is coming

Futurist, demographer, and TEDx speaker Mark McCrindle is leading the campaign to call anyone born after 2010 a part of Generation Alpha. According to him, 2.5 million Alphas are born around the globe every week.
Alpha kids will grow up with iPads in hand, never live without a smartphone, and have the ability to transfer a thought online in seconds. These massive technological changes, among others, make Generation Alpha the most transformative generation ever, according to McCrindle.
“In the past, the individual had no power, really,” McCrindle told Business Insider. “Now, the individual has great control of their lives through being able to leverage this world. Technology, in a sense, transformed the expectations of our interactions.”


Educating Generation Z: Let Them Color Outside the Lines

I am a Generation X mother attempting to raise a Generation Z daughter. I recently read a statistic by social researcher Mark McCrindle which set off an internal monologue that ended in a migraine: my daughter's generation will have "17 employers across 5 separate careers, working in jobs that don't even currently exist."

Sydney's most liveable suburbs: the Urban Living Index

The new index, which ranks the liveability of 228 suburban areas in Sydney, was produced by social research firm McCrindle for the Urban Taskforce Australia, an industry group representing property developers. Rating the liveability of suburbs will always be contentious. An attribute one person loves about a neighbourhood might be repugnant to another. No measure will ever be perfect and the findings of the Urban Taskforce's index are bound to spark debate.
The data on 20 separate indicators was used to assess the affordability, community, employability, amenity and accessibility of a suburb to determine how liveable it is.

Top five baby name trends for 2016

It's become something of a tradition for me to pick the knowledgeable brain of demographer and social researcher Mark McCrindle at the end of each year regarding baby-name trends for the following one. Here’s what he has to say about 2016.
“A name is popular for about a decade, and then it starts to fade,” says McCrindle. “A classic example is Jack. It dominated most years in the first decade or so of the 21st century, but now it’s starting to fall down the list. It became a victim of its own success. Lachlan is another name that was often first or second on the list, but is now starting to fade.

Researcher Mark McCrindle delivered the results to business leaders yesterday, revealing a PSI index score of -12. Nearly 200 Hills businesses, covering 15 sectors, responded to 21 questions rating their opinions on business conditions (current economic conditions, regulatory settings and infrastructure), performance (earnings, expenses, employment) and sentiment (cost, growth and economy in six months).


THE best stocking stuffers this Christmas are tech gifts — or wrap yourself up as a present. That’s the finding of McCrindle Research who surveyed 1012 Australians to discover their sentiment and spending intentions for this festive season. They found that this year Aussies plan on saving money, staying at home with family and friends and are hoping for technological gifts under the tree. Best-case scenario the gift gets used, at least until boredom sets in or the latest gadget hits the market. Worst-case scenario it gets binned, stuffed way way back in a cupboard — or sold.

A decade of Australian transformation

Monday, September 14, 2015

Only occasionally in history do massive demographic changes combine with huge social shifts, ongoing generational transitions and unprecedented technological innovation so that within the span of a decade society altogether alters. Australia is currently in the midst of one such transformation.

Constant change can sometimes lead to change fatigue where the response can be to become worried about change, or equally negatively it can lead to change apathy which can create an indifference to change. However by understanding the emerging trends, we can be more prepared for the changes and so rather than becoming defensive or blasé we can confidently respond to the shifts and so remain ever-relevant.

5 Megatrends Reshaping Australia:


While Australia’s population growth rate has recently slowed, we are still adding more than a million people every 3 years. Australia’s largest city, Sydney will also be the first Australian city to hit 5 million (by the end of 2016) however it is our second largest city, Melbourne which is growing the fastest and will take Sydney’s title in 2053 with both cities expected to reach a population of 8 million in 2055. In fact Melbourne is growing by more people every 5 days than the state of Tasmania adds in an entire year (1,400). Our third and fourth ranked cities will also change order over the next decades with Perth’s rate of growth set to see it overtake Brisbane in 2029 when they both reach a population of 3 million. While only these 4 cities currently exceed 2 million people, Adelaide will join the 2 million club but not until 2055, almost a century after Sydney reached this milestone in 1959.


This population growth is leading to more densified living. While 3 in 4 households currently live in a detached home, almost half of all new housing approvals are in the unit, apartment or townhouse category. Australia’s communities are undergoing significant transformation from the horizontal suburbs to the growth of these vertical communities, and as people rent more, move more frequently, and transition across more communities than ever before. The average renter in Australia stays just 1.8 years per abode and even those who have bought a home are not putting their roots down deeply and staying for several decades like their parents did. Those with a mortgage stay on average just 8 years before they sell. While this growth, density and mobility is evident in the capital cities and larger coastal cities, Australia’s top 30 cities now include many inland regional cities that have a growth rate exceeding that of some of the capitals. It is the tree change and not just the sea change that rising capital city house prices is currently facilitating.


Cultural diversity is foundational to Australia- part of the DNA of our communities. More than 1 in 4 Australians was born overseas and almost half of all households (46%) have at least one parent born overseas. And our population mix is now more connected to our region with the top 7 countries of birth of Australians born overseas shifting in three decades from mainly European countries to now include China, India, Vietnam and the Philippines. There remains a deep affection for the traditional Aussie qualities of mateship, ironic humour and the larrikin spirit alongside the richness of our lifestyle which comes through the input of so many cultures. In a nation of world cities and global connectivity, gone is the cultural cringe, replaced with an international perspective that looks out not in.


Three decades ago Australia’s average age had only just moved out of the 20’s to reach 30, today it exceeds 37 and in three more decades it will be 40. This ageing population though is a good news story- it means we are living longer, and consequently active later and able to work later in life than was previously the norm. In the last generation, Australians have added an average decade to their life expectancy at birth. Along with the ageing population goes an ageing workforce- which means that there are more generations in the workforce than ever before and leading teams in diverse times requires better people skills to bridge more gaps than ever before.


Australia’s generations of Baby Boomers and Generation Xers are now sharing the leadership and workforce roles with the emerging Generations Y and Z. These new generations, born and shaped in the late 20th Century are increasingly becoming lifelong learners, multi-career workers with a focus on work-life balance, participative leadership models and a more varied job description. Along with this, the next generation of technology has, in less than a decade, transformed almost every area of business and consumer interactions. How we shop, where we get information from, when we connect and where we work from have all been fundamentally changed in this Wi-Fi-enabled, device-driven, app-based, social media-influenced decade. While it is self-evident that every business, product or idea is just one generation away from extinction, such is the speed of change today, we are now just a decade or perhaps a few years away from this point. While such change impacts us all, those who understand the trends can drive the change and shape the future.


Mark McCrindle is an award-winning social researcher, best-selling author, TedX speaker and influential thought leader, and is regularly commissioned to deliver strategy and advice to the boards and executive committees of some of Australia’s leading organisations.

Mark’s understanding of the key social trends as well as his engaging communication style places him in high demand in the press, on radio and on television shows, such as Sunrise, Today, The Morning Show, ABC News 24 and A Current Affair.

His research firm counts amongst its clients more than 100 of Australia’s largest companies and his highly valued reports and infographics have developed his regard as a data scientist, demographer, futurist and social commentator.


Welcome to our blog...

We have a passion for research that tells a story, that can be presented visually, that brings about change and improves organisations. And we hope these resources help you know the times.

Our Social Media Sites

Facebook | McCrindle Research Social Media YouTube | McCrindle Research Social Media Twitter | McCrindle Research Social Media Flickr | McCrindle Research Social Media Pinterest | McCrindle Research Social Media Google Plus | McCrindle Research Social Media LinkedIn | McCrindle Research Social Media Mark McCrindle Slideshare

Last 150 Articles


school Aussies supply and demand urban taskforce Scouts typical australian Engineering Manager commuting insights Northern beaches Event Northern Territory school satisfaction follow cash shopping Adelaide the australian dream house price New Zealand ageing relational care support not-for-profit sustainable #censusfail 2016 eliane travelling gen alpha research report SA lalor park area Jura Australia Aussie christmas 2017 emerging trends students australian real estate Channel Seven NT Deaths townhouses nfp thrive anzac internship children Research Director DESTEL wealth distribution PSI researcher learning English equip winter presentation public transport schools students McCrindle Keynote Speakers seasons money geomapping hills shire NSW teleworking work-life winter blues survey design growth office opening environment food bank employmee baby name trends mccrindle tea home owner rule keeper australia surnames report TAS living pyrmont speakers pack Word Up weekly earnings education sector marketing earning google for education McCrindle Speakers South Australia potts point news huffington post maiden poor crows nest Christmas season holiday census fail apartments 2016 census 10 years housing trends faux-ciliser budget workshop impact 40 million Charlotte sydney speaker tea bondi Sydney wealth and income distribution skills tertiary education mccrindle in the media millenials blaxland Bathburst christian volunteering data weather kate middleton The Daily Edition Maxim Accounting Generation Y fresh retirement brands low density future of shopping offenders TEDx Speaker faux-cilising shbc year 7 social issues HSC February 16 food insecurity consumer generational trends future rise of local christianity local community focus group chairty overcast urban study urban living recap sydney metro wages generation Z Melbourne research pack entrepreneurs of today demographics story 2016 census results know the times growing population giving australian communities forum high density living digital staff aussie culture gold coast neutral bay Social Trend religion VET sector hunger research services Merry Christmas click baby boomers men plans online research population map life sector wide study media activity meals land of the middle class travel engage charities earnings university degree Australian Bureau of Statistics socialites shopper's pick Gen X demographic transformations not for profit australian community trends report Christmas day weather workforce gig economy Australian communities wealth and income royal forum repayments logan national private wealth aged care puzzle baby name predictions optus my business awards trend social impact celebration owning a home community engagement DIY Christmas data Christchurch population mentor commuters gender cooking showreel event 2014 marriage society trends Sydney Lifestyle Study Australian Population baby names australia report panel digital economy teaching SMART ACT brand the average aussie resource trends of 2016 professional services Mount Annan-Currant Hill stats millennials CPI mccrinlde Vocational education local communities education research personal growth tips challenge grandparents goals renter of the future Elderslie-Harrington park australian social research real FPA jobs New South Wales New Zeland ABS cancelling plans gig demographer university investment in the media Gen Z Expert Tuesday Trend mobile define keynote royal influence award winner property market small business economy hobart bureau Sydney keynote speaker business commute results customer hornsby Australian Home property royal family online shopping renting sunny days Hornsby Shire Council property price brisbane financial fears futurist Real Estate waverton selfie census interactive Sydney’s south west REIV National Conference charity food tuesday ACT Report volunteering grave decision NBRS Architecture public holiday entrepreneurial donation home ownership 2020 family sydney market gen z the hills leader summer group darwin community event debt wedding cartodb fears royal baby cultural diveristy Performance Sentiment Index motivate high density apartments keynote speaker bus rental stress urban development cancelling event Res Vis households residents statistics social shifts Australian schools sydneysider networking baby boom Crime Rates income hills rich holidays organisational culture deloitte schools sydney hills collaboration Queensland youth affordability social urban living index investor post rationalism vegetarian EFF snapshot global financial crisis Northern Beaches leadership demographic women healthy future shifts happy holidays Population Clock rising house prices organisations future proof christmas trees education future report woolworths future of work office space engagement criminal professional speakers friendship participants conference cica millionth mateship Christmas Stats graphs child care priorities relevant generation omnibus innovation emerging technologies dreams younger generations research visualisation suburbs state community communication housing affordability shopping centre events teacher cancel plans screenagers etiquette population growth future proofing Births 24 million ease of travel narcissism daily telegraph young australians high density suburb business performance who is generation z going out society generation alpha The ABC of XYZ families energy norwest ACF sector ferry spirituality infographic wall World Water Day global generations responsive earn meetings Black Friday Sales TDE house price rise dream System's Architect culturally diverse Financial Planning Association of Australia Christmas lunch baby names report Kiwi public speaking suburban living 1980 24,000,000 affordable social change CBD Royals Australia street manly screenage January 26th Kirsten Brewer social lives optimistic consumerism lifestyle future-proof Wellington environmental scanning baby What is food insecurity? social trends 1968 SRE social commentary public speaker Christmas presents Lower Hunter Region mother's day Cobbitty-Leppington Willowdale Skilling paying to work investing Australian Trends household mortgage brand experience Territory domestic Tuesday Trends optus leadersip NFP event Work place nativity scene Australia Day Wodonga resilience proactive couple australians staying home more prince george mythbusters wolloomooloo Australians insight social analyst employmer mccrindle research increasing densification coffee balance victoria the hills shire Valentine’s Day economic communicate cost ethnography professional presenters faux-cilise wage Canberra easter leadership workshop storytelling Education Future Forum stay home youth unemployment WA micro apartments greatness census 2016 Love Caregiver Hills Shire Council cars McCrindle Speaker social analysis Netflix transport emerging generations innovative professional development education future politics McCridle parenting Christmas research HR Sydney population work mates conference presentation work survey financial dreams intern average aussie middle class forecast twentyseventeen mythbusting christmas Generation X social media capital city infographic average Australian slideshare national wealth learner change demographic trends crime newspaper 2015 group session dreaming census results TED talk hello fresh research data TEDx speajer media education Financial Planning Association cultural diversity teach TED media release Duchess of Cambridge moderators guide easy rider conferences Assistant Store Manager wealth presentations high school demography internships culture REIV Conference video sydney event belief litter financial independence long weekend housing market professional speaker socialising rent alpha facts coffee lovers mining boom publication US spend daily commute village work from home 2013 clothing parents world ACF2017 Gen Y global retail FOMO conference speaker housing growth NBRS visualisation Macquarie University divorce water sydneycity Australian Families ipswich internet purpose toys Sydney Hills Business Chamber ashley fell curiosity authenticity property development Christmas in Australia Geoff Brailey changing face of sydney Channel 7 program monarchy sports unemployment Queensland: QLD VIC training workplace Australian Dream data visualisation focus groups sun volunteers builders personalities in depth interviews marrickville infographics list the great screenage sentiments seasons greetings friends poker master google sydney property market JOMO 2012 annual income Australia Day 2017 young people forecasting unaffordable safe case study Business analysis Tasmania tv staying in vegemite global trends father's day marriages trends of 2017 Research Executive product perth communications aged care social commentator new york times 1994 SMSF financial 2017 language mover and shaker pharmacy goal australian medicine entrepreneur house prices GPO hopes live the dream Financial Planning Week social enquiry experience non profit business index average sydneysider salary research on coffee social researchers jobs of the future apartment generations names Australian community trends 23 million speaker technology sydneysiders financial future not for profit research analysis social research Do It Yourself sector wide wellbeing menai capital cities rain Black Friday baby names new office megatrends data trends analyst student world youth day Northern Beaches Christian School home australian communities trends report government Myth teachers Mark McCrindle in the media Australian Communities Trends Real Estate Institute of Victoria school students the changing face of finance volunteer office sunburnt country contiki eliane miles employment communities debate financial planning employers surname acf15 thought leadership maiden names Andrew Duffin tattoos 1975 collaborative train visual tableau dare to dream social researcher Black Friday in Australia trend tuesday cloudy days census data breakfast population milestone learning styles future of education choice workers Western Australia Christmas day social life data analyst "know the times" workplace culture Hunter Valley NEETs VET growth of sydney outsourcing Australian Census pharmacies educated do people still change their surname after marriage? princess charlotte entertainment car award ideas church wealth inequality Wagga Wagga quote national crime rates housing identity divorce rate learn year 12 happiness city market research Retail faith casual educhat ACF17 careers qualitative research cold Mark McCrindle ACF 2016 donate house baby name trades media commentary buildings James Ward Australian demographics ageing population moreton bay mccrindle cost of living ashley mckenzie IT Specialists Jura Coffee career the lucky country ultimo dessert micro states local Lower Hunter