At the Crossroads of Youth, Age and Wisdom

I read a number of Tweets from some heavy edu-hitters last night. I wanted to chime in too, but preferred to watch it unfold instead. And wisely so. It was in good hands. RousseauYouth and Wisdom

At the heart of this 140 character, or less, repartee was youth vs. age vs. experience in education, and whether they’ve intersected or juxtaposed more than we would like to believe.

However, I wondered whether their banter was over the issue of the way it’s always been done, or perhaps that there now exists an intentional paradigm shift trying to replace old guards?

As an “older” new teacher of 20+27, I find myself in an interesting predicament within this convo. Perhaps, more than ever, the axiom of never too old to learn something new has finally usurped the old dogs and new tricks adage? I want to announce that it’s true. Old dogs are now learning new tricks because they’re being taught by wiser ones how to do them. Notice I didn’t say younger.

I’ve been blessed to receive instruction in 21st Century pedagogy, balanced literacy, D.I, M.I, D.T, Web 2.0 and SEL-not to mention constant upgrades from an awesome
PLN and Twitter. What can’t happen to any of us, regardless of age, is any departure from constant learning. Worse still, a choice by any educator, to no longer grow, build, strengthen and support our lifelong calling.

There is no argument. Age must be inconsequential. True educators, of all ages, are constantly preparing to be effective and relevant. So then, the real discussion  of youth vs. age vs. experience becomes a matter of volition, commitment and energy. All clearly evident in the participants of these on-line discussions.

We must all agree that success in education is underpinned by preparation, innovative thinking and adaptability.

Wisdom is ageless. We have all seen this evinced in our classrooms from Day 1. Students have, do and will continue to teach us as much as we teach them.

Reggae giant Peter Tosh sang, You Can’t Blame the Youth. We cannot blame the youth for wanting a place at the table of their future whether they’re teaching or learning. If we are wise, we will see the contents (genius) rather than the covering. If we accord respect merely due to longevity, then we navigate away from the necessary “give and take” that comprises real learning. We must see intelligence as infinitely possible and passing through the intersections of all people-whether they’re old, young or in the middle.

The questions that come to mind are many:
How do we combine the up-to-datedness of the new teacher with the experience of a veteran teacher?(commitment to the success of our students) Are some teaching styles finally going the way of the Dodo?(Inshallah) Does wisdom have an irreducibly minimum age?(No)

Cue the quotes:

“The error of youth is to believe that intelligence is a substitute for experience, while the error of age is to believe experience is a substitute for intelligence.” Earnest Hemingway 

“I do not think, sir, you have any right to command me merely because you are older than I, or because you have seen more of the world than I have; your claim to superiority depends on the use you have made of your time and experience.”
Charlotte Bronte

Youth is crucial to creating a world that will go on long after the predecessors from whom they’ve inherited it are dirt napping(me included, you too…eventually). Sure their cars are shiny and get better gas mileage. After all they were given an excellent model to build upon.

Respect is an understood thoroughfare that must offer space for all on the educational roadways. We cannot stop for too long or risk getting towed for an expired mind, er…meter.