The generational divide not trivial


An opinion column in a newspaper (the kind that they give away, not the kind that they can?t give away) recently weighed in on the latest, widely reported generation-snowflake issue. Quote.

The furore over the word ?trivial? in an NCEA history exam was a small illustration of a big generational divide. The qualifications authority (NZQA) last week agreed not to penalise petitioning students who claimed it was unfair to use the word ?trivial? in a question as they didn?t know what it meant.? End Quote.

Divide and conquer? Hardly.?Quote.

These Generation Z?s displayed attitude. My generation would have taken that lying down, but these students used digital savvy to whip up a 2,000 signature petition, send it to NZQA, stir up media coverage and receive a response, all within days.?End quote.?

Not since Alexander the Great conquered the East at the age of 32?.There follows a long-winded treatise about the joys of travels with a Gen Z companion who, like Houdini, uses her ?phone to get out of all manner of scrapes: downloading apps for audio walking tours, sharing a Google doc of thrift stores and receiving news feeds etc. etc.??Quote.

She plays her phone like a concert pianist, appearing smarter and more effective. In contrast, I feel stupid and incompetent.?End quote.

Well that last bit was spot-on. But not so much the prestidigitation-enhanced companion simile.?Quote.

She talks about being vegetarian to save the planet. I talk of giving up meat to save my waistline.?End quote.

You can?t get much more trivial than that.?Quote.

We could consider the drama over the word ?trivial? as entitled and naive. But Gen Z?s are not naive, they?re more connected and considered than any generation before them. End Quote.

Connected? Considered? Spoilt, vacuum-headed snowflakes, more like it. And entitled. And naive.?Quote.

Gen Z?s are smart and independent, they are the generation that cares most about the environment and are often already engaged in the community.?End quote.

Retch. Quote.

The ?trivial? debate seemed trivial to us, but to Gen Z?s it was worthy enough to fight for justice. With that sort of drive, there is hope that they can make change that is far less trivial ? just don?t ask them what the word means.?End quote.

Justice! God in Heaven! One wonders how these Gen-Zs would even begin to comprehend this story, written in 1933 and pitched at 12 year olds??Quote.

Biggles looked a trifle apprehensively over the side of his cockpit at the unusual scene below as he headed westwards in a Vickers Amphibian. Immediately below, a broad, winding silver ribbon marked the course of the mighty Amazon, the largest river in the world. On both sides lay the forest, dark and unfathomable, like a great sombre pall over the face of the earth, merging into vague purple and blue shadows at the remote horizon.*?End quote.


  1. Explain the word ?trifle?. Is it trivial??
  2. What is meant by ?apprehensively??
  3. Explain what is meant by ?Amphibian??
  4. Evaluate the rhetorical description of the Amazon as ?a broad, winding silver ribbon?.
  5. What do you understand by ?unfathomable??
  6. Explain in your own words what is meant by ?a great sombre pall??
    (12 marks)

*from Biggles and the Cruise of the Condor by Capt. W.E. Johns. First published in 1933 and republished by Red Fox in 2004. ISBN 978-0-099-93870-5


by ToBoldLeeGoh