'Intergenerational Trust Will Be Our Superpower'
Early reports of COVID-19 in the United States predicted different health outcomes among young and old. As we are learning, however,
younger adults face sobering risks
. Moreover, recent surveys
find no age gap
in confidence or preparedness. For every scene of college-age partiers on the beach, we hear a story of boomers who won’t self-quarantine.
With generational attitudes evolving, both headlines miss a key opportunity: cross-generational fellowship will power our communities beyond this pandemic.
In this epidemic, intergenerational trust must be our superpower. As students across the country relocate from campus communities to virtual ones, the shift calls us to new kinds of collaboration. Over the past few weeks, we two presidents -- a university president and student body president at William & Mary -- have learned firsthand the value of such partnerships. Trust grows in shared purposes, mutual understanding and duty to others.
The creation of learning communities has rarely been so intentional. Joined in a common effort to keep teaching and learning, partners of different ages bring different strengths. Our fluency with online social life varies, as do our historical perspectives. A teacher’s educational experience cuts through the noise of a new platform. Students remind us of the complex living situations affecting online learning. A college teacher in Philadelphia remarked on the liveliness of screen-based discussion in her class: students wrestled with ideas freely, not waiting for the professor to call on them as usual. She savored their authority.
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What I Love about Teaching
Here is Dr. Timothy Simpson's response to the question "What I love about teaching?"
What I love about teaching is learning. A learning teacher is critical to the success of the classroom. There is no denying that the student has a role to play. The student must dominate the learning. Schools of all levels too often let students ignore their responsibility for learning. Students must “get their boots on” and “get ready to work.”
Teachers, however, can help. They can help by being fully immersed themselves in the pursuit of the True, the Good and the Beautiful. To be less so robs the student of a model and exemplar of learning. My students will never be brought to love and serve the pursuit unless I am a witness of that love and service to the pursuit. My students cannot be brought into thoughtfulness and self-examination unless I have gone there before them. I, therefore, must, like the late Amy Kass recommended, be in love with every book I share with my students to read.
Through my enthusiasm, I hope to help them experience the beauty and challenge of these books for themselves. From that vantage point, they will be prompted to examine themselves and expand their own horizons. Thus, they will no longer be asleep, but awake, and awake they will be able to discern the better from the worse and choose the better. If I as a teacher can achieve such a result, then I believe I will have served my own desire to learn but, more importantly, I will have served as an exemplar of learning for my students.
by Timothy Simpson, FGSE, Morehead State University
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