A recent interchange involved a discussion of why a certain young person didn't call our house to talk to my daughter. "He didn't have her cell number," was her father's amused response. Both of us knew that the son knew where we lived and that his father had our land line phone number.

I have since heard that message a few times that the younger set doesn't is baffled about the concept of calling a landline. The fact that modern 411 service is abysmal (and ought to be put out of its misery) doesn't help. But it points to a different way of thinking. The things that one generation thinks is obvious is a complete mystery to the next.

I'm not sure my 20-year-old has ever used a telephone book to look up a number. She has no concept of opening a newspaper to check movie times. But this is the next generation of workers and they are going to be taking direction from superiors who take these things for granted.

What they have in technical skill, they lack in inventiveness. Maybe that's something that comes with age, but I think that their technical abilities give them power over communications but also limit their approach to problem-solving. They think technology is always the answer and will yield the best approach without exception.

To manage them is going to take the ability to understand the language and the deep faith in technology. To get results is going to take broadening that outlook -- isn't that what teaching is always about? But I think there's a bigger cultural break here than has been seen before. This generation that can be comfortable with 60-year old music but often hasn't heard many common sayings.

The education process is going to be less about teaching them technical skills and more about teaching culture and history, whether or a business or of a society.

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