Perception of age


Yesterday’s comment about never getting old and the display at the train station had been rolling around my mind all day. Even when going to Erieau and capturing this photo from the beach looking towards the lighthouse with the magnificent clouds, I was thinking “this never gets old”.

I meant it then; I mean it now. I wonder if people there who “live it” daily appreciate it as much as we day trippers.

It got me thinking about age, first as a student, and then later as a teacher. Schools are all about age. Students are grouped by age and put into classes managed by someone older than that. No exceptions – well, maybe one.

As an elementary school student, you end up being left to the care of a much, much older person than you for 9-10 years. They always seem so much older, dressed better, always clean, study the school rulebook at night, and always seemed to show up at the most inappropriate times. Can they read minds? Their claim to fame was making things fun. Because we like fun. It was only later, as a teacher, that I realized that this fun was educational.

As a secondary school student, the scenario continued. But, not only were they older but because of the content, they were also wiser. They all continued to dress better – who the heck would wear a tie and suit jacket every day? Except for the physical education teacher. They seemed to get a pass on the teacher dress code, even when they taught us health. Despite the fact that the phys ed teacher was old, we all hoped that we’d be in that great of shape when we got to be their age. There was another old moment for us – we went to school in the days that the government had lowered the drinking age to 18 and we enjoyed a refreshment on Fridays at lunch.

At university, it continued. All the professors were older and not only did they teach that way, but they also did research. I always thought that was the best way to age in education – have grad students do your marking and spend so much of your time doing research.

Then, the other shoe dropped when I became a teacher.

I really was only about 4 or 5 years older than my Grade 12 class during that first year. I couldn’t get the needed credibility for being all that older and wiser. But, I could wear a tie and a suit jacket. I also let my beard grow out to prove how much older I was. It fooled a lot but they were probably just looking for marks. I do recall one gentleman who wasn’t fooled and invited me to go to his parents’ bar. I’d never heard of it but when I asked in the staff room, I found out it also was a strip bar and that I’d be wise to pass on the offer.

Getting older in the profession was interesting. For the longest time, I felt that they were allowing younger and younger students into secondary school. When I finally came to the conclusion that I was wrong, it hurt! Like many, I suspect, I tried to be younger. It didn’t work as my own kids point out. I also remember one day – as a person who never had anyone compliment my dress at work – getting a comment from a colleague when I wore blue jeans with my tie and jacket. I had to look up avant-garde to determine the meaning behind his message.

You can’t win.

The best advice that I ever got about all this came from my mother and I wished I’d paid more attention to it at the time. But, she was older and all that.

“Age is just a number unless you let it be something else”.

OTR Links 08/11/2022


Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.