Monday 7 February 2011

Blogphilosophy: ageism in #education

older people in action
Ageism is one of the big taboos in Western society. We have huge prejudices towards people with a certain age.
The remarkable side of this prejudice is that it occurs in an era where the population’s average age is getting older by the year. And although we are all getting older, we – older people (= which age do you feel ageism kicks in? I think it comes too early) are confronted by ideas embedded in Western culture. Ideas that are unsubstantiated at that.

This is no different in education. In fact mainstream education is/was a bastion of ageism.
Let me list the first 5 prejudice mindsets that come to mind:

  1. You go to school from X to X, x being <25.>As if we all are flabbergasted by the knowledge provided by the educational institutes for people of that age, or as if we knew what was going on at 20 (well, I did not). We only start to learn at that age (at best).
  2. The older you get the less you can learn: if you agree with this, get a life! Experts are formed through ongoing learning processes ;
  3. PhD’s are mostly young graduates: well, I am putting myself up to tackle that one.
  4. The digital native – digital immigrant discourse: oh please, try to sell that to my mom, she would shoot you with her WII gun.
  5. Old professors or famous people good (let’s shake hands and take a picture), old people stupid (let’s just avoid talking to them all together).

I wonder, is Roger’s diffusion of innovation theory ever tested throughout age groups of different (early adopters, laggers…) groups of techy people? If not, I will do it, I will research it and yes my hypothesis is: once an early adopter, always an early adopter (looking at my auntie Anna, who shook like a maple leaf all of the time; we used her multiple times as a sugar shaker for pancakes... yes, we did, but more importantly, she learned Italian via CD's at age 90).

So please let us really disrupt education, cut down educational ageism barricades in the process and lift a new open minded Phoenix out of its ashes. Education is build by all of us, not just the young one’s, we as older educationalists either uphold the conservative paradigm of ‘my young assistants - best assistants, for they do not contradict me as older one's would’, or we shatter it, exchange notes and embrace openness, all ages and willingness.

(Another great cartoon by Nick D Kim: