Thursday, November 16, 2017
Recently I had a good chat with a former student, who has already retired from practicing law. I was surprised as I had assumed he was younger than I am. Why? Because I was the teacher, right? But, as it turned out, he was about 10 years older than I was when he was my student, and, of course, that margin remains. I was guilty of a form of reverse-ageism.
I have another friend who teaches non-law courses on aging-related topics for Oregon State University. She uses cartoons effectively in the course -- handing out provocative cartoons without any captions that include some imagery associated with aging and inviting the students to provide their own captions. Pretty quickly the students get to see the difference between humor that both old and young could chuckle about -- and ageist humor. She also admits to her students that her courses get more relevant with every year -- to her, of course -- as she and her friends are rapidly reaching silver or gold status as "older" adults.
Along that line, The New Yorker magazine has a current piece addressing ageism that is both thoughtful and eclectic. Amusingly, it begins with scenes from a classic movie, where a young Paul Newman is toiling away in a Philadelphia law firm, resenting his elders. Of course, for readers of a certain age, they might find it impossible to imagine a "young" Newman as all they know is his gray haired image (or, perhaps, his salad dressing bottles).
The author suggests that perhaps our biggest problem with ageism starts with ourselves -- our own unwillingness to confront the realities of our own aging. He uses an example from retirement communities, where residents sometimes attempt to ban walkers and wheelchairs from the dining areas. Ironic, yes?
Lots of good food for discussion in Why Ageism Never Gets Old, written by Tad Friend, for the November 20 issue of The New Yorker.
Our thanks to Dick Kaplan at University of Illinois Law for sending the link our way.