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William Allan Kritsonis, PhD

APostmodernismPerspective:NationalEducationalStrategiesfor
TeachingtheMillennialGenerationBasedontheWaysofKnowing
ThroughtheRealmsofMeaning
Priscilla D. Johnson
PhD Student in Educational Leadership
The Whitlowe R. Green College of Education
Prairie View A&M University
Prairie View, Texas

William Allan Kritsonis, PhD


Professor and Faculty Mentor
PhD Program in Educational Leadership
The Whitlowe R. Green College of Education
Prairie View A&M University
Member of the Texas A&M University System
Prairie View, Texas
Visiting Lecturer (2005)
Oxford Round Table
University of Oxford
Oxford, England
Distinguished Alumnus (2004)
College of Education and Professional Studies
Central Washington University

ABSTRACT
This article stirs up the modern approach to teaching the Millennial generation. This group
will not fade away; they are here to stay. They will transfer their knowledge to their
children and peers. Their ways will spread. I have summoned teaching strategies based on
the Ways of Knowing Through the Realms of Meaning, developed by Dr. William A.
Kritsonis. Educators: be not afraid, the Millennials are ready to learn. Are you ready to
teach?

PRISCILLA D. JOHNSON AND WILLIAM ALLAN KRITSONIS

Introduction
They seem to be everywhere. They are tellers in your local bank; sackers at the
supermarket; and the retail manager at your favorite store. You might find them texting furiously
with a zealous smile or teaching you to use a computer feature. These paramount individuals are
known as the Millennials. I am proudly one of them. There is a metaphysical phenomenon that
spotlights teaching the Millennial generation. This group is of often misunderstood due to their
tone of entitlement. There is a tantalizing effect from their presence in the world. Some educators
utilize a perplexing set of strategies derived from a modernist approach and in result,
ineffectively lead this group. As the ways of people change, educating these individuals should
change concurrently. From a postmodernist perspective, we can understand and educate the
Millennial generation. The Ways of Knowing Through the Realms of Meaning, coupled with the
fashion of postmodernism, provides an original framework. We can capsize education that has
been perplexed to one that molds the educational needs based on the characteristics of this
generation.
Purpose of the Article
The purpose of this article is to present teaching strategies for the Millennial generation
based the Ways of Knowing Through the Realms of Meaning, written by Dr. William A. Kritsonis.
Through a postmodern perspective Educational leaders have the opportunity to assist in a
students journey. They can become what they dream and what we need in an eclectic world.
Postmodernism
According to Fenwick English (2003), Postmodernism Is about challenging and opening
up the central premise that only one set of borders are possible to define and support professional
practice (p. 3). Kritsonis (2010) believes that the Modernist theory has continuously dominated

PRISCILLA D. JOHNSON AND WILLIAM ALLAN KRITSONIS

Educational Administration. A person who sees the good in Postmodernism does not believe in
certitude. They see the world as a blank canvas that can be painted and distinguished in many
ways. Postmodernist aim to show the amalgam of approaches that can solve most issues. This
approach gives reverence to each individuals mind, contributions, and value in society. While
understanding that right answers are contextual determined, they seek to expose the
contradictions, hypocrisies, as well as the intellectual and conceptual dead-ends of modernism
(English, 2003, p. 6). Postmodernism embraces realism. The language we use and our cultural
uniqueness form our reality, which is showcased to the world. In the foundations of
postmodernism, lies the belief that individuals learn best by using concepts. One theory or
theory free observations are impractical. To solve a problem, postmodernists use a theory to
perceive a different reality. Educators see reality different when they are willing to change.
According to James MacGregor Burns, Studies of leaders rarely deal with the idea that leaders
are transformed by the realities they embrace and so change reality, that followers are not only
changed but change their leaders (English, 2003, p. 29). Postmodernist realize that truth is
subjective, just as the concepts of right and reality. Gandhi believed in satyagraha, an
everlasting search for truth. There is an axiological appreciation for the truth. For some, truth
gives them comfort. For others, it is the only ontological substance in search for what is real.
Kritsonis (2010) believes, A new order can be established as soon as new thoughts, ideas, and
attitudes, are explored (p. 11).
Who are the Millennials?
The research varies on classifications that describe this generation. According to Nellen,
Manly and Thomas (2009), individuals born between the years 1983-1996 are considered a
Millennial. Skiba and Barton describe this group as anyone born from 1982 to the present

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(2006). In 2009, Ketter and Taylor described this group as the most ethically diverse and
accepting group in contrast to previous generations. They describe oldest members as now
approaching age 30, born between 1981-2000. For this research, we will consider everyone born
after 1981-present as a Millennial. Synonymous for the Millennial group include Generation Y or
Echo Boomers. Individuals who teach these groups of students are from a different time. Often
educators and students have differing expectations, which conflict (2006). Research about the
characteristics of the Millennial generation are in harmony. According to Nellen et al. (2009), the
Millennial generation has been tracked, studied, and researched more than any other group.
McAlister (2009) describes this group as ones who hardly remember life without the Internet. In
an epistemological sense, the digital world has transformed they way we think, work, and
communicate. This is the generation that would rather communicate via cell phone texting,
Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, and other social networks. They are characterized as sheltered,
team oriented, confident, achievement oriented and pressured, multitaskers, and techno-savy.
Other researchers have probed deeper to find axiological strokes in their character. Tapscott
found 10 common themes that portrays their sense of being

fierce independence;

emotional and intellectual openness;

inclusion;

preoccupation with maturity;

investigative;

immediacy;

sensitivity to corporate interest; and

PRISCILLA D. JOHNSON AND WILLIAM ALLAN KRITSONIS

authentication and trust (Skiba and Barton, 2006, p. 1).

The Millennials are open to various instructional strategies. Changes in the workplace or school
are not seen as negative. They understand it as an opportunity to do something different to
achieve better results. When they are given guidelines for work to be completed, they feel more
confident. They feel a sense of pride when they have the freedom to achieve the results using
their own creativity. They appreciate being engaged in learning through all their natural senses
(McAlister, 2009).
The Ways of Knowing Through Realms of Meaning (ROM)
Kritsonis (2007) has devised a set principles educators can apply to engage the Millennial
generation. These six principles are called the Realms of Meaning. Postmodern educators
understand that teaching these individuals will take new approaches and measures. They believe
in the epistemology of being open to all instructional methods. Watkins (2009) believes These
realms of meaning formulate a framework that provides both the teacher and student the
opportunity to engage in higher level learning, participate in critical analysis of a given subject,
and to be able to view education as a meaningful and engendered approach to learning (p. 79).
All realms can be utilized alone or in conjunction with another. Compounding the ROM makes
this philosophy powerful. When educators grasp of the value of educational engagement, they
enter a metaphysical world that allows them to see a different reality. Given the opportunity to
imitate postmodern ways of teaching, they become inclined to dump modern educational
methods (Kritsonis, 2010).
Symbolics

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According to Kritsonis, symbolics is the way we communicate with another. We use


ordinary language to reach our audience. In addition, we utilize mathematics, gestures, rituals,
and rhythmic patterns for the transfer of learning (Watkins, 2009).
Empirics
This ROM refers to our physical world and the ways we interact with living objects. We
all have a variety of worldviews. When we engage students and rile their inner beliefs, we give
them the opportunity to discover their own truths. According to Kritsonis, educators can
incorporate public policy in lessons as a means to connect students to the empirical ways of the
world. They broaden a students perspective and give them the philosophical lens to understand
their world (Watkins, 2009).
Esthetics
An intangible way we see beauty in the world describes esthetics. Postmodernist find
value in the beauty of knowledge. According to Kritsonis, educators who operate in the realms of
esthetics use music, literature, and assorted apparatuses to generate self-expression among
students (Watkins, 2009). This is a way to ensure students are engaged by stimulating their
interest and senses.
Synnoetics
Knowing yourself and being aware of your own free will entails the realm of synnoetics.
According to Watkins (2009), This intrinsic knowledge of the self and selfs relationship to
world around this entity is critical to the self-mastery and discipline required to be academically
successful and intellectually astute (p. 86). When students explore their inner being, they assign
meaning to our world. They build their own moral framework to make decisions.
Ethics

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Kritsonis believes that our ethics enables us to choose the best options and decipher
between right and wrong. This realm explores personal conduct and moral decisions. We seek
meaning and fulfillment through a virtuous nature. Educators have moral obligation to elevate
the knowledge of all students (Watkins, 2009). Effective educators help students realize their
own obligation to their education.
Synoptics
The last ROM encompasses an overview of the previous realms. All realms are
interrelated, yet they have the ability to stand-alone. Through concept formation and an
analytical philosophy, we devise meaning from what our minds construct. When educators
incorporate this realm, they help students develop an intertwined understanding of academic
subjects. Watkins (2009) believes, the student academician can see not only the relationships
between subject matters but also develop deeper and higher cognitive levels of thoughtthrough
comparing and contrasting various aspects and levels of learning (p. 89).
A Postmodern Approach to Teaching Millennials through the Realms of Meaning
From Englishs views (2003), human factors, human conditions, and the mind should
have influence on making decisions. Postmodernism is an effectual approach to educating the
Millennial generation. It accepts the ideas that generations, individuals, and circumstance are
unique. These generations must be matched with different educational principles, specifically the
Realms of Meaning. In table one below, I have gathered postmodern strategies for teaching the
Millennial generation that embrace the ROM. The Millennials are a communicable group who
enjoy working in teams. They find that knowledge becomes more embedded as they converse
with others. This is the generation that has innately made technology a normal part of their life.
They desire to be heard and are a forced to be reckoned if this does not occur. They value

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compromises and have a sincere input in their education. You will notice that table one advises
educators to use technology in the learning process. I would advise that educators survey
students technological competence for various tools. Educators should use symbolics that help
students understand material. All language, material, and activities should be well planned and
precisely formed.
Table one

PRISCILLA D. JOHNSON AND WILLIAM ALLAN KRITSONIS

Realms of Meaning
Symbolics: speech,
symbols, gestures

Postmodern Teaching Strategies for the


Millennial Generation
Educators should understand student body language and
signs
Utilize language to divert challenges
Use real world people who students see as heroes, but
challenge them to be better
Use email, websites, and blogs to post project due dates,
grading criteria, and collective performance comments

Empirics:
worldviews,
physical world,
public policy

Form discussion groups for various topics


Avoid making assumptions about a students background
Learn their culture
Initiate discussions to illicit their worldviews

Esthetics: beauty
in meaning, arts,
literature

Have students design, write, present own research


Show students how to find reliable internet sources
Give personal feedback to help them see the meaning in
grading evaluations
Handwrite advice on assignments
Create material that is relevant, show them the relevance

Synnoetics:
knowledge of self
and others, free
will, choice

Give Pre-Post self evaluations; evaluate individual


success
Create team learning activities
Evaluations by peers, but provide training to each
student first
Always provide grading criteria

Ethics: sensible
decisions,
determine right
from wrong

Provide lessons that engage in netiquette (internet rules)


Create a lesson where students investigate author sources
Discuss and publish plagiarism rules
Educators should stay abreast of k-12 trends
In private, address intolerable behavior

Synoptics:
overview and
analysis of
knowledge, overall
outlook

Utilize rubrics
Use social activities to intertwine learning goals
When possible, allow students to decide learning
structures
Be willing to compromise with students
Allow students to discuss test results in groups

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Several sources ( Kritsonis, 2005; Dooley & Wickersham, 2009; Owen, 2005; Watkins, 2009)
Concluding Remarks
In conclusion, integrating postmodernism through the Realms of Meaning for the
Millennial generation challenges educators to change. The strategies discussed in this article are
a necessary component for improving instruction and student learning for the millennial
generation. Postmodernism implies that there is not one best way to educate. The process
involves construction of ideas, the use of creativity, and a turn from the modern ways of
teaching. Despite what you hear about this generation, know that they are willing and ready for a
fresh approach to education. Through media, they are connected constantly to the world and see
change everyday. Educators should not be afraid that change would not be embraced; they
should look to change themselves. Nelson Mandela said, Education is the most powerful
weapon which you can use to change the world (Mandela, n.d.). I believe the Realms of
Meaning, from a postmodern perspective, will create the assurance Millennials desire for their
future. Educators who embrace these doctrines, create value outside the box. They become the
emblem, free of traditional conditions.

References

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Dooley, K. and Wickersham, L. (2008, February). Teaching and assessing the millennial
generation. Presentation presented at the 8th Annual TAMU Assessment Conference,
College Station, Texas.
English, F.W. (2003). The postmodern challenge to the theory and practice of educational
administration. Springfield, IL: Charles C. Thomas.
Ketter, S. and Taylor, P. (2009). The millennials. (Research Report). Retrieved from Pew
Research Center Publication website: http://pewresearch.org/pubs/1437/millennialsprofile
Kritsonis, W. A. (2005, August). Ways of knowing through the realms of meaning. Paper
presented at the Oxford round table at the University of Oxford, Oxford, Englad.
Kritsonis, W. A. (2010). Strategies for implementing postmodern theory and practice in
educational leadership for improving education in the United States of America. EDUL7003-P01. [Lecture Notes]. Prairie View, TX: Prairie View A&M University, Department
of Educational Leadership.
Mandela, N. (n.d.). Change. Retrieved from
http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/keywords/change.html
McAlister, A. (2009). Teaching the millennial generation. American Music Teacher, 59(1), 13-15.
Retrieved from Academic Search Complete database.
Nellen, A., Manly, T., & Thomas, D. (2009). Adapting accounting education to the generations:
working with the millennials. Tax Adviser, 40(2), 119-121. Retrieved from Business
Source Complete database.
Watkins, D. (2009). Educational leadership directives: Analyzing the effect of integrated
curriculum model on student academic achievement based on the ways of knowing

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through the realms of meaning (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). Prairie View A&M
University, Prairie View, TX.
Wilson, L. O. (February, 2005). Teaching Millennial Students. Presentation presented at the Lilly
North Presentations. Retrieved from
http://www.uwsp.edu/education/facets/links_resources/Millennial%20Specifics.pdf
Skiba, D., & Barton, A. (2006). Adapting your teaching to accommodate the net generation of
learners. Online Journal of Issues in Nursing, 11(2), Retrieved from CINAHL database.

About Dr. William Allan Kritsonis


WILLIAM ALLAN KRITSONIS was recognized as the Central Washington University
Alumni Association Distinguished Alumnus for the College of Education and Professional
Studies. He was honored by the Texas National Association for Multicultural Education as
Professor, Scholar, and Pioneer Publisher for Distinguished Service to Multicultural Research
Publishing. The ceremony was held at Texas A&M University-College Station. He was inducted
into the prestigious William H. Parker Leadership Academy Hall of Honor. He was an Invited
Visiting Lecturer at the Oxford Round Table at Oriel College in the University of Oxford, United
Kingdom. Dr. Kritsonis was a Visiting Scholar at Columbia Universitys Teacher College in New
York, and Visiting Scholar in the School of Education at Stanford University, Palo Alto,
California.

In May 2015, Dr. Kritsonis participated in the Think Tank on Global Education at the
Harvard Graduate School of Education, Cambridge, Massachusetts. The think tank focused
on how to help students develop intercultural awareness, knowledge of global issues, and
multilingualism.
He served on a national think tank appointed by the Secretary of Education in 2012-15
for Providence Rhode Island Schools with sessions conducted at Brown University in the
Annenberg Institute for School Reform. In 2013, he was a nominee for the Outstanding Texas
Educator Award exemplifying the leadership of John Ben Shepperd for public leadership
education, ethics, and public service.
He is Founder of National FORUM Journals (Since 1982). Professor Kritsonis is the
author of numerous articles as well as author or coauthor of several books.

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He has served as a teacher, principal, superintendent of schools, director of student


teaching and field experiences, professor, author, consultant, editor-in-chief, and publisher. Dr.
Kritsonis has considerable experience in chairing PhD dissertations and teaching in doctoral and
masters programs in educational leadership and supervision. He has earned the rank as professor
at three universities in two states, including successful post-tenure reviews.
Dr. Kritsonis has traveled and lectured extensively throughout the United States and
world-wide. Some international travels include Australia, New Zealand, Tasmania, Turkey, Italy,
Greece, Monte Carlo, England, Holland, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Russia, Estonia, Poland,
Germany, Mexico, the Caribbean Islands, Mexico, Switzerland, Grand Cayman, Haiti, St.
Maarten, St. John, St. Thomas, St. Croix, St. Lucia, Puerto Rico, Nassau, Freeport, Jamaica,
Barbados, Martinique, Canada, Curacao, Costa Rico, Aruba, Venezuela, Panama, Bora Bora,
Tahiti, Latvia, Spain, Honduras, and many more. He has been invited to lecture and serve as a
guest professor at many universities across the nation and abroad.
Dr. William Allan Kritsonis is presently Professor of Educational Leadership at The
University of Texas of the Permian Basin in the College of Education within The University of
Texas System. He teaches in the MA Principal and Superintendent Certification and preparation
programs along with assisting to develop a new doctoral program. He earned his PhD from The
University of Iowa, Iowa City, MEd from Seattle Pacific University, and BA from Central
Washington University.
David E. Herrington, PhD
Professor
Texas A&M University-San Antonio
Summer 2015