As I’ve mentioned before, at the moment I’m coming to the end of my first year of a 4 year Bsc in Speech and Language Therapy. In fact, I should be revising for the exams I have coming up right now, but what I’ve learned is that even as a ‘mature’ student I’m still really, really good at finding something else to do when I should be studying. And so you lucky people get an extra blog post. You’re welcome.
Going back into education as an adult is a strange and sometimes scary thing. In our cohort of 37 or so students, there are a few of us who are older, but even the majority of the mature students are a good few years younger than I am, and only 3 of us have children. This means that at times it can be hard to relate. They don’t know who Nine Inch Nails are…and why would they? most of them weren’t even born in the summer of 1994 when The Downward Spiral was all I played for 3 solid months. And that album wasn’t available as a download, it was barely available on CD. Now, more than ever before probably, technology advances so quickly that things that were cutting edge 5 years ago are obsolete. And it really shows in the life students of 18 or 19 lead compared to when I first went to uni in 1999. No one had mobile phones, very few people owned a computer and The Internet was this weird and wonderful thing that no one really knew much about. We hand wrote assignments and gave them in to be marked. Now, we type and electronically submit everything. All the information we need about the course and the university is available via an app you can download to your mobile phone. ‘Back in the day’ if we wanted to know things we had to look it up on a noticeboard and few of us even owned a landline, let alone a mobile. Its literally a different world. And when you are the older generation it can be hard trying to fit into that world.
As a group we get on really well as a whole, but you can definitely see a divide between the younger and older students. I have to try really hard to not refer to them as ‘the kids’, because they aren’t children, they are perfectly capable adults, but when they are much closer in age to my child than they are to me, its hard to stop that mothering instinct taking over. I’m conscious of not wanting to patronise, but at the same time I’m aware that we share very few points of reference in life so don’t want them to see me as a boring old person. So when I found myself in a group activity recently where I was quite literally old enough to be the mother of the people I was working with? I’m not gonna lie, I was nervous.
But, what i found out was surprising. Despite our many and varied differences, we actually had far more similarities. We were all nervous, we all had insecurities about having to present to the whole group, Despite coming from different generations we worked in the same way to find information (and we’ll just gloss over how I couldn’t even work out how to switch on the Mac because I’d never used one before…). I may have more life experience which helped shape the direction for the presentation, but they had amazing and interesting ways to progress the idea forward. When I had child related issues (more on trying to student and parent at the same time in a future post!) they were understanding and mature in dealing with it in a way that surprised me a lot. Young people today get a bad rap for being the selfish generation who are vain and self centred and shallow. I’m here to tell you that the young people on my course blow that stereotype out of the water, they cope with a pretty demanding schedule in a way I couldn’t have at their age. They are present and engaged and work hard.
So, I think that when all is said and done, whilst we are different and they have utterly crap taste in music, its going to be ok. I look forward to the next 3 years with these ‘kids’ because I think I have a lot to learn from them. And I just hope that I can give as much to them as they give me. I have a fantastic record collection just ready and waiting…