Dr. Shantram Hawkins, Assistant Principal of High School, Ombudsman Educational Services

Dr. Shantram Hawkins is a scholar-practitioner with over 17 years of educational experience. He supports Frederick Douglas’s notion, “It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.” His educational background includes a Bachelor of Arts in Music Performance from Southern University A&M College (HBCU), a Master of Arts in Human Services specializing in Marriage & Family Counseling from Liberty University, a postgraduate degree as an Educational Specialist specializing in school and community organizations, and a Doctor of Education in Leadership from American College of Education. Moreover, he has served in many educational settings, such as a music teacher, Youth Interventionist Specialist, Restorative Justice Practitioner, Director of Culture & Climate, and Dean of Safety & Security during his educational experiences. Dr. Hawkins collaborated and worked successfully with key stakeholders and functional teams to maximize academic and behavioral capacity for students’ success. In addition, he has a record of building relationships, incorporating family engagement, lowering suspension rates by 70%, and implementing individualized behavior modifications through positive reinforcement, mentorship, and restorative practice interventions. Dr. Hawkins is an active member of the Kappa Delta Pi educational honors society and an active member of Educators for Excellence. 


There is a global phenomenon of complex knowledge attempting to identify and understand the behaviors and learning styles of Generation Alpha (2010-2024). To understand the future, we must examine the past; to understand this phenomenon, a researcher must examine the daily processes of children born in Generation Alpha (GA). Children are exposed to a wealth of information at earlier ages. These children can access unlimited information on technological devices. The problem is the data gathered can cause drastic mental deficits that may lead to cognitive dissonance, lack of purpose, unstructured discipline without dignity, provide a false sense of hope, and neglect restorative practices in school environments.

Is There a Disconnect With GA?

Cognitive dissonance is a process that causes mental discomfort that may not align with one’s beliefs. The insufficiency of cognitive dissonance may also systemically impair one’s values or attitudes, causing feelings of shame, inner conflicts, and disconnect. GA social media culture is a new phenomenon where social media influencers, pop culture, rap, and TikTok trend moguls have replaced traditional cultural and community practices. These practices have exuded into the home and school communities. Some GAs impacted by the GA social media culture may have major disconnects in a conventional school environment where boredom may persist, making schoolwide expectations challenging to adhere to, which may not align with traditional social norms, and not being entirely accepted and invested in the school environment.

Students who do not have access to robust and supportive family or community-structured environments may lack purpose. The fundamental question is, is the lack of parental support the nucleus of this concern? Most school-related problems stem from students who may have a lack of parental support. A study by the author discovered parents are frequently blamed for their child’s school-related issues rather than the school curriculum, instruction, policies, or resources. Attributing underachievement to a lack of parental support is unfair. Underprivileged parents want their children to have a good education but often lack financial capital for educational support, social connections, and access to top schools. Early community involvement and practical parenting assistance can help prevent problematic behaviors in GA in school settings.

Discipline With Dignity

Adequate behavior support for GA students is to provide a supportive and structured discipline system utilizing dignity. Schoolwide expectations are structured to create safe environments. Sometimes, students’ behavior infractions will appear to cause school staff to reverberate as if their last two nerves are in a survival battle. Student behavior infractions are also one of the primary causes of why teachers are leaving the profession. Moreover, we have seen an influx of teachers responding to students with unethical practices via the news through walkouts, engaging in verbal, and physical aggression due to fight or flight stimuli. The loss of responding to discipline with dignity has been a problem for some teachers. Responding to behavior problems should be exhibited in a respectful manner, even when faced with adverse negativity. It is highly unethical to respond with degrading tactics such as verbal threats, changes to students’ grades, speaking ill in front of colleagues, etc. Students should receive corrective responses from a place of dignity and compassion.

A Tale of Two Worlds: Tradition vs. Social Media Culture

GA is a general of hope despite popular belief. They like to explore knowledge on their own. Some GAs are asynchronous learners. Most GA learners benefit from non-traditional learning styles, such as sitting in a chair, being told to be quiet, and paying attention all day. This generation prefers to broaden their understanding through multiple learning styles, such as visual, kinesthetic, auditory, logical, social, and solitary learning. They prefer to investigate what they are taught and desire to know how their learnings will impact them in real-world situations. The problem is when they are not taught to conduct research properly, they are left to learn from online components that may not be peer-reviewed or ethical. Such concerns cause an influx in trust in the social media community to gain knowledge that is not always based on facts. Social media culture has sadly become the new era of social-emotional learning creating peer pressure concerns and increasing cognitive dissonance.

Hope is The Answer

Steve Jobs once stated, “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backward. So, you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something—your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.” Hope is the possibility of aspirations beyond human consumption. Having hope may have the ability to reformate the brain (neuroplasticity). Previous research underscored the possibility that belief can produce positive results and efficacy. HOPE births Healthy, Optimistic, Perseverance, & Enthusiasm. Children learn from people who believe in them and can intuitively sense when someone does not have their best interests. GA learner’s desires to be challenged. Allow them to explore by updating your curriculum to fit their unique learning styles, understand their culture and do not employ ethnocentrism towards them, discipline them with dignity, demonstrate sincere compassion, and promote HOPE, and the return will be restorative practices that will yield unwavering results by creating global citizenship.

Content Disclaimer

Related Articles