Gen X-ers and the Future of Education: Crucial or Redundant?

Let’s talk about technology in the classroom.

Erik P.M. Vermeulen, PhD
3 min readApr 21


Photo courtesy of author

“Smartphones must be banned from the classroom!” The experts’ message was clear.

To ensure our students receive the best education possible, any form of distraction must be avoided. This is particularly true for smartphones. We must nurture and protect the developing brains of the youngest generation. The online content and the visuals, sounds, and vibrations of smartphones lower school performance and grades. Also, when the highly addictive devices and their accessories are banned, students are happier and suffer less from stress and depression. So, the story goes.

The students disagree. “The experts — mostly Gen X-ers and Boomers — are wrong.”

The students argue that a smartphone ban feels like going back in time. “Smartphones aren’t the issue; the teachers are. Too many classes are boring. And who wants to listen to a monologue complemented by illegible slides? Smartphones and digital content prevent us from falling asleep during a class. And if smartphone use is an issue, we recommend schools to teach us how to use smartphones wisely.”

The students’ criticism is commendable, but I fear that their comments are in vain. The experienced experts won’t listen. “What do the students know about education?”

It doesn’t matter how many discussions we will have about the future of education. We aren’t willing to make any changes to the way we teach. Why would we? Education (and the traditional way of teaching) has proven to be very relevant in the life of younger generations. Just look at the recent development of life on Earth. Culture, technology, and society developed super-fast over the last hundred years when more and more people benefited from the quality and efficiency of education. “Instead of changing education, focusing on making education available to all is the way forward.”

But What If the Students are Right?

As a teacher, it’s hard to deny the changed dynamics at schools.

I don’t feel like an old-school teacher anymore when I am in a classroom. Instead, I am a guide, a signpost, and a moderator.



Erik P.M. Vermeulen, PhD

Prof (Law) | Sci-fi | Sociological storytelling