Column: Mostly educational: The chaos kitesurfing Class of 2022 | Oklahoma

For those of you unfamiliar with the sport of kitesurfing, just imagine balancing a slippery board on top of roiling waves while tied to a giant kite in a windstorm. The best kitesurfing happens when winds exceed 20 MPH, when most sailboats have headed to port, and kitesurfers routinely master winds exceeding 40 miles per hour. As you can imagine, the stronger the wind, the rougher the water, so kitesurfers must survive not only the waves but also invisible likes that can pull someone 50 feet into the air without notice. Scary to some; crazy fun to others.

Invisible wind and uncontrollable water combined under violent conditions sound exactly like what the Class of 2022 has faced for three years. And like kitesurfers, our 2022 graduates have learned to master the chaos. Three years of COVID. . . worldwide disruption. . . closures and quarantines . . . economic upheaval. . . worldwide disasters. . . the potential for World War III! The class of 2022 has somehow made sport of it all.

This should not surprise us, because their lives are characterized by chaos and change. We had generation gaps, but they know generation blips. Baby Boomers, Generation X, and Millennials spanned decades, but post-smartphone generations evolve every 3-5 years. MySpace. . . Facebook . . . Instagram. . . Snapchat. . . TikTok. . . all generational shifts that rose and fell quickly. The average TikTok user cannot endure videos longer than a minute – rapid-fire image assault to us old folks, but kitesurfing to our graduates. Honestly, being hypnotized by flashing colors and sounds is not so unusual. Just visit any casino and you’ll find people my age similarly transfixed, so I suppose this means the current generation may catch up with Baby Boomers.

You attended high school during the COVID age, so your brains work differently. You have learned to harness the chaos, to ride upon it, and when likes come along – to soar through the air with grace. Us old folks might label you as distractible, inconsistent, and reckless, but we would be wrong. You are everything this world needs right now. We trained to enter a profession for life, but you are nimble and adaptive, prepared to be career-fluid. We had a handful of friends, but your social network can include thousands and transcend all geographic, linguistic, and cultural boundaries. Despite this, you will struggle to relate to graduates in five years.

You connect virtually with people worldwide, but they will speak any language face-to-face with real-time translators. You have learned coding, but they will simply describe something, and a computer program will create it for them. You swipe screens to order stuff; they will simply “think” and it will arrive on their doorstep. We go to college, but they will earn micro-degrees and hop from career to career. This generation can work from home, but their generation will work within a virtual reality. Work in pajamas or work as a giant Koala Bear, your choice!

Inevitably, these young’uns will label you out of touch, but remember. . . YOU will create it all. You are the post-pandemic generation who will shape a world tossed violently by wind and waves. While others struggle in the surf, you will gleefully glide and fly above the chaos. The Class of 2022 is a pivotal and transformative generation. Nimble. Adaptive. Smart. Fearless. And in thirty years, I will live a better life because of you. God willing, I will still be kitesurfing with you.

We old folks could not be in better hands. You have not only survived the greatest worldwide disruption in a century, but you have also gracefully mastered the turmoil. The future is scary for some of us but crazy fun for you. Happy chaos kitesurfing, Class of 2022!

Tom Deighan is superintendent of Duncan Public Schools. You may email him at [email protected] and read past articles at www.mostlyeducational.com

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