Old Dogs, New Tricks

A blog for non-traditional students

Feeling Like Methusaleh

For anyone new to the blog, let me say welcome.  And on that note, I’m starting to wonder if I’m all alone out here – am I speaking your language or am I totally off base?  Speak up – use that snazzy little comment box down there!!!

Here’s a familiar, yet depressing, scene in my classes: the professor is explaining something, perhaps why celebrities don’t normally bother suing tabloids for libel, and after searching for a good example, settles on something that happened over 15 years ago.  Midway through describing what happened the professor will toss off a comment like, “Of course, you all are too young to remember that.”  At which point, my head bangs on my desk and I choke back a groan.

There are many variations on this theme; I’ve had professors refer to their entire class as young people under the age of 25, I’ve tried to contribute some insight to a class based on my slightly larger body of knowledge (like talking about how interesting Geraldine Ferraro’s comments on Hilary Clinton were in light of Ferraro’s own place in campaign history) only to be faced with blank stares from my classmates or, maybe the worst experience so far, actually having a “professor” who is significantly younger than me – although I imagine this is a far more common occurence for non-trads older than myself.

Of course, I’ve also faced the reverse problem – the professor uses some current event or public figure as an example and I have no idea who or what they are talking about.  This is particularly embarrassing for me because I’m a journalism major and should keep up with the news more, but there are only so many hours in the day – ultimately, I sacrifice knowledge of the hottest new hip-hop artist or the most recent escapades of Paris/Britney/Lindsay/etc.

Nothing can make you feel like an old fart as a discussion of your musical interests.  While I still manage to have some more up-to-date interests (Nickelback, Daughtry, Staind), the majority of my musical interests run to what is now classic rock – I shudder even as I type those words.  I have to resist the urge to smack myself in the forehead and say, “Doh!” when a classmate comments that they like The Police too – their parents used to play them all the time.

And maybe it’s a sign of maturity on my part – rather than becoming an old stick-in-the-mud – that I can’t stifle a groan when someone starts talking about the latest Will Ferrell or Jack Black movie.  My comedy interests come in two flavors: stand-up and romantic.  Outside of those, I appreciate small doses mixed in with more dramatic material – I’m a West Wing-snarkiness junkie.  Of course, my dislike for sexual pie humor or lame single-entendres only further underlines my distance from what is … um … hip? … cool? … happening? – I went too far there, I know that’s out of touch.

But maybe that’s the beauty of mixing non-trads with their younger counterparts – it’s a fairly simple way to mix the two mind sets and possibly lead to a little extracurricular learning.  Maybe I’ve encouraged some of my younger peers to broaden their musical horizons (not likely) or opened up a new world of movie entertainment (my answer to the Blades of Glory fans has always been Clue – a far classier movie).  And certainly I appreciate the pointers on what’s new in the world of pop culture – it helps me keep a step ahead of my adventurous 11-year-old son – soon to be a teenager.  There’s another shudder – better stop before I fall out of my chair.

*** Danielle

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January 10, 2009 - Posted by | Generation Gap, Maturity

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