December 3, 2023

These past months, many families rejoiced since their children joined the commencement exercises in various schools and universities in the country. For the graduating batch of 2022-2023, it is a celebration of their successful journey as students. This year’s commencement was special in the sense it ended their academic hardship brought about by the online mode of learning.
We observed there was a remarkable surge in academic awards and achievements among this generation. Attending my brother’s graduation, almost all in their batch received awards ranging from with honors to with high honors, and quite a number of with highest honors. In Department of Education standards, these students have a general average ranging from 90 to 99.
In the commencement exercise of the university where I teach a degree in the Liberal Arts, almost all graduated cum laude, a handful of magna cum laude, and first time in history, three graduated summa cum laude since only a few were able to achieve this feat in the past.
Many families and relatives truly rejoice in their children’s hardships and achievements. But these graduates were also plagued by intrigues. Some people doubt the student’s grades. Many were skeptical of their academic awards and achievements. To an extent, some educators reacted and some questioned their grades.
For instance, some members of the older generation attribute these achievements solely to the technological advancements of our time, particularly artificial intelligence (AI) technology. The oldies perceived that technology has unfairly skewed the playing field in favor of the younger generation.
However, it is critical to remember the academic accomplishments of this generation are the result of a collaborative effort from multiple societal factors, not only technology.
The generational tension between the old and young is not a new phenomenon. Many argued that their “high grades” is attributed to the use of technology. Some would contend that their academic performance is not because of their personal efforts but because jobs are made by AI. AI-generated software such as ChatGPT will complete the assignments of students. Various educators are also alarmed the learning is no longer genuine; psychologically speaking, students tend not to think anymore and solely rely on AI. Skeptics of this generation will argue; the young generation will become spoiled, dumber, and lazier.
However, blaming intellectual accomplishments purely on technology is reductionist. It fails to recognize the many aspects that contribute to academic performance. If the older generation contends that the young will become dumber and lazier to use their mental faculties because of technology, why does our society progress through out time?
This narrative of envy and skepticism among the younger generation is not new. When calculators were invented in the 1960s, the older generation, who were used to the manual computation of mathematical problems, argued the youth would be dumber since the brain would not be used that much.
When the computer was popularized in the 1980s, the older generation had the same envy and argument. The same argument was used against teens when the Internet was popularized in the 1990s to the 2000s. When search engines like Yahoo! and Google was popularized in the 2010s, teachers argued that it was a form of cheating and students would become lazier and will not anymore think. And now, AI-generated software and goes with the same narrative.
Shouldn’t we be happy instead of being envious and skeptical? The increase in academic achievements and awards and the technological innovation of the society are the products of the older generation’s effort. The results are not solely because of technology but also because of the demands of and initiatives by the older generation of quality education, educational reforms, and socioeconomic support systems.
Like a parent’s dream that our children will never suffer the discomforts that the parent suffered; That the grades are not just the manifestation of the students’ hardship but also the dream of one’s generation; A generation praying for a better future; A better future portraying youth as being well-informed, knowledgeable, and educated.
This generation of graduates deserves to be recognized instead of being doubted. They have endured almost three years of hardship and have been robbed of their learning experience. They have been dispossessed of their adolescent experience.
They lost an opportunity of extending networks and connections, therefore losing that chance to create lifelong friendships and mentorship, unlike ours, who cherish high school and college memories with our peers. All these opportunities can only be reached and optimized personally and not virtually.
These young generations are the true victims of the pandemic. Who are we, as the older generation, to judge, doubt, and mock them?
We have to accept that today’s generation is very different from ours. We must recognize that today’s generation’s successes such as the academic achievements of batch 2023 are the fruits of all generations. It’s a collective effort between generations. We were able to surpass a pandemic and build a future where academic achievement is not just a personal triumph nor a generation’s feat, but a societal accomplishment. In this way, society will be able to move forward.