Does Age Matter?

This is year 24 (!) for me in the classroom, and recently I considered for the first time if a teacher’s age matters in terms of their effectiveness. Is it better to be young and energetic and full of fresh ideas from recent college courses? Or is a seasoned veteran, one who can stop a naughty kid with a single raised eyebrow (that’s my super power), better for students? What about a person who comes to education in mid-life and is a new-older teacher? Is that the best of all combos?

I’d honestly never thought about it in those terms, but now it is something I am wondering.

Having been in the field for such a long time, I’ve seen many changes to schools. When I began, I can remember calculating grades on my little calculator (I teach English, so this was rough), and then we had to handwrite the letter grade on carbon copies of reports cards. You had to call in your homework to the “Homework Hotline,” and outside of Conference Week, we didn’t communicate with parents unless there was a problem.

Now when I enter students’ grades into the computer, the calculation is done instantly, so parents and kids can see their scores in real time. Students and their parents can email me with questions and complaints, and we can have conversations basically at any time. Group projects are done via Google chat, Skype, and texts instead of going to someone’s house after school, and high school kids can even do all their coursework online if that’s what they want.

Kids are still kids, but they are different. They walk around with tiny computers in their pockets and have access to all the information they could ever want. Do teachers need to be different, too? Is it better to actually be a digital native when you are teaching them, or is there something to be said for many years of experience with your content and then adapting to new technology?

So, what do you think, does age matter for teachers? If you have kids, do you have a preference for an older more experienced teacher or do you want a young teacher who is just getting started?








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