Once you reach a certain age, you are often faced with variations on the “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks” theme.
“This is not the time to set up new challenges for yourself.”
“Why do you want to push yourself at this stage?”
“It’s impossible to pick up new skills at this age.”
That last one, particularly, gets my goat. Anyone who is over the age of 40 has had to learn multiple new skills simply to get through the day. Use a phone with swipes, clicks and taps instead of dials and touch pads. Talk to people on screens instead of face to face. Stand at an ATM for your money instead of facing a [not always] friendly bank teller. Transfer money online instead of counting out cash.
You get the picture.
As teachers, we are constantly having to learn new skills, adopt new attitudes, confront new issues, and devise new ways of solving problems, or even re-thinking old problems. So, don’t talk to me about age and the inability to learn. All you have to do is scan the articles in any issue of Teacher Plus to see that our community is full of energetic, innovative, open-minded people who are not only continuous learners, but are excited enough about their learning to want to share it. So, we have a senior educator who keeps up with all things digital, and a retired language scholar who speaks about new ways of thinking about conversations in the classroom, a naturalist who keeps herself fresh by experimenting with an indoor garden, and even a techie who has discovered that writing about education can be more rewarding than writing code! And so much more – Teacher Plus is sustained by the belief that there is always something new, and something valuable, that is worth talking about, and knowing about.
This is probably true of every field of work and indeed every aspect of life, but one can always learn; one is always eminently “teachable”. All one needs is the willingness and a tiny bit of excitement in unwrapping the gift of a new lesson or skill. This is not to say that one should try bungee jumping in one’s eighth decade – unless of course one has trained one’s body for it! But that still leaves open a huge number of things one can do. My 88-year-old mother-in-law constantly scours social media for new craft ideas, while my 82-year-old mother follows her fascination with brain science and wellness down internet rabbit holes, always emerging with interesting insights.
So, what’s your next new thing? We’d love to hear about it!