Progressivism vs. Conservatism: The Millenial Generation

“Millennials hunger to be connected to something larger than themselves, a trait that has been highlighted by many generational researchers and one that serves as a connecting point for young adults seeking a spirituality that is not about just “me and God.”

I agree with the premise of this article that our millennial generation definitely has a stronger desire to be part of a community than our parent’s generation.  I am not absolutely sure, but I firmly believe, and correct me if I’m wrong, that a higher percentage of young people would define their political views as progressive as opposed to conservative.  Now when I use the word “progressive”, I do not mean progressive as in liberal.  For me, progressive means forward-thinking and willing to affect change in the world.  But most importantly a progressive person is not afraid to speak out against and work to alter a long-standing system or way of doing things in order to make the world a better place.  A progressive will see the difference between giving charity and working to end institutional oppression.  Progressives see themselves as part of a human community where their decisions and indecisions affect others.  Conservatives, meanwhile, are afraid of change.  They tend to be more individualistic or to use a cliché, “What’s mine is mine and what’s yours is yours”.  From my own personal life, I can say with certainty that a lot of my previous severe depression stemmed from feeling like I was not part of a community, and I am slowly but surely working to change that.  I would also postulate that the majority of young people who do suffer from depression have that same desire for belonging, but feel that the culture suppresses their desires.  I know I feel that way every second I am sitting in a Felician College classroom.  In fact, this suppressive culture in the American educational system , I would postulate, is one of the main contributors to the fact that American students just do not like school.  I believe a new progressive educational system must be formed.  I would like to quote thrice the great American educational philosopher, John Dewey, in order to further explain my reasoning

“Where the school work consists in simply learning lessons, mutual assistance, instead of being the most natural form of cooperation and association becomes a clandestine effort to relieve one’s neighbor of his proper duties.

 “The mere absorbing of facts and truths is so exclusively individual an affair that it tends very naturally to pass in to selfishness.  There is no obvious social motive for the acquirement of mere learning, there is no clear social gain in success thereat.

“Only by being true to the full growth of all the individuals who make it up, can society by any chance be true to itself.”  

Our generation craves motive.  It craves purpose.    It craves community.  It craves meaningful direction mentally and spiritually.  It craves direction towards integration into the larger world.  It craves progressivism and shuns conservatism.  But we are stuck in an educational culture which places rote learning, memorization of facts and figures, teacher dominated lectures, and standardized tests before those true aspects of learning.  The school is capable of being the greatest engine of social change this world has ever seen.  Unfortunately, conservative forces in education have been hard at work for the past ten years trying to find ways to fix education in America without actually getting to the root of the problem.  Conservatives will try to find any way to fix a problem that does not involve changing the established system.  They always fail, but their ideological resolve never waivers.  I believe the twenty-first century, with the rise of the millennial generation, will experience a gradual trend away from conservatism and towards progressivism in all aspects of American culture and life.


I write to dialogue. So please, let's engage each other in some dialogue.

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