Recently in the news, there has been a lot of media attention given to elderly individuals who are earning a high school diploma or bachelors degree. While I am more than happy to see these individuals complete their desired learning and educational courses, what I am shocked about is the surprise by the media and general public to this astonishing accomplishment.
Should it really be a shock that a 90-year-old man or woman, can obtain their college degree? Why are we classifying age around when learning is complete or can happen? It is praised, to an extent, in the media, but it continues to be viewed as something rare or unique. While the numbers of the individuals might indeed be rare or unique, the connection between learning and the individual should not be, regardless of any age.
The same is true for Prodigy’s, young individuals who are extraordinary talented or intellectually advanced in one area or another. While it might be rare to see this, by exposing this as unique, the public has made it about something that is unusual, rather than something that should simply be praised. What is left out of the conversation is the fact that learning can happen at anytime in our life and it should be the norm that individuals do learn and become life-long learners. Rather than creating a compartmentalized age specific time for when learning is possible, maybe we should simply expand learning to include everyone, regardless of sex, nationality, sexual orientation, ableism, religious affiliation, political persuasion, and yes, AGE.
It is easier to look at these stories on the news and go, “oh, that’s nice!” and move on. What is far more difficult, is viewing these stories as a critical example of how society separates the time of when we work with the time of when we learn.
In Educational Solidarity,
Casey K. Caronna