The “Do Over” Generation

Some sources would place me in with the Boomer/Gen X Cuspers.* Whereas those born during the early years of the Boomer generation exhibited a bit of rebelliousness (drug use, commune residence, civil rights marches, war protests, etc.), my end of the generation wrapped-up the disco era, put-away their David Bowie albums, and joined the early preppie movement (which later became the yuppie movement) of Gen X. We tended to keep our heads down, finish college, get jobs, and follow the rules.

The situation with Gen Y is much different.

I don’t like to buy into stereotypes, so I simply don’t believe every member of Gen Y is as lazy, irreverent, and hard-to-manage as the media and social commentators say. However, one thing I know for certain is this: In my zillion-year career as a community college writing teacher, I have never, never had so many requests for “do overs” (read: revisions for a higher grade) on exercises, tests, and other timed assessments as I have with my Gen Y students.

I think many of these students actually qualify as Gen Y/Gen Z Cuspers. If so, this makes me worried about Gen Z, which is supposed to be a pretty stable and conservative group. As such, I hope that they will soon realize that life does not give us many second chances. We are supposed to begin learning this hard lesson in school, where earlier generations of students would have found the very idea of a “do over” on quiz or exam laughable. Yet, these days, many schools are allowing students to re-take assessments that they fail–sometimes several times. So, the students walk away from the experience with the impression that they can do-over just about everything in life, including my grammar quizzes.

No such luck.

Last week, I had to explain to at least five earnest-faced students who didn’t like their grades on a compound-complex sentence quiz that, nope, there are no do-overs in my classes. I watched as a look of disbelief crossed their faces and slowly morphed into one of tragic disappointment. Life had treated them unfairly (or so they thought), perhaps for the first time in their rather short memories. It was a pitiful sight but, for them, a lesson well-learned. I doubt they will ever again take it for granted that life guarantees second chances. Sometimes we must indeed get things right the first time.




*You can click on “Defining the Generations” in the top menu for a full description of the generations. However, here’s a short list of the generations by their birth ranges:

  • Traditionalists/Silent Generation (1925-1945)
  • Baby Boomers (1946-1964)
  • Generation X (1965-1980)
  • Generation Y/Millennials (1981-2000)
  • Generation Z/Boomlets (2001 – )


One comment

Comments are closed.