Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Great Class(room) Divide

It was inevitable really.

Last week at uni, forced to do group work with girls barely half my age, the expected finally happened.  I'm just surprised it took three weeks.

'So are you coming to the Tav after class?' says young blonde Number 1.

'Totally, I'm so glad it's the weekend.  It's been a long week. I need a drink,' says young blonde Number 2.

Ignoring the fact that this was a Wednesday and as far as I can tell weekends still start on Saturday (or possibly Friday night) I had been waiting for the conversation ever since I enrolled in uni late last year.

To be honest though, to call it a conversation gives the distinct impression that I was included in it.  I wasn't.  The young blondes were tolerating my company, and taking advantage of the fact that I had actually done the readings and knew vaguely what I was talking about.

I wasn't being asked to come to the Tav, but I was finally having that moment when it became blindingly clear that I was a mature aged student, and the only place I would be going after class was to collect my children from daycare and then home to cook everyone dinner.

And I am quite happy with that.

For the half hour we were in our groups (approximately three minutes of which was spent discussing our readings) the girls talked about going to the movies, boys, other classes they were doing, their enormous workloads, their part time jobs and a litany of other equally fascinating topics.

Listening to them (as I wasn't expected to participate) it occurred to me that the primary difference between them and me, was not our ages or our life experiences, where we were heading after class, or whether we knew the difference between memoir and personal essay, but the fact that I really wanted to be there.

They were all working their way through their (first) undergraduate degree.  This course was a core (compulsory) unit, one of four they were currently undertaking.  They had not chosen to be there, and they seemed to have little desire to be there. 

Please do not think I am being too harsh on these girls - I remember feeling exactly the same way about some of my anthropology and psychology units about 14 years ago. In fact, the more time I spend with them, the more I understand my own younger self.

And I like them, I do.  I even admire them.  Spending an entire three hour class on Facebook without getting caught is surely an impressive feat of tenacity.

For them perhaps, going to class is a chore, equivalent to going to work or some other important but un-fun event.  But for me, going to class is an opportunity, a window to a new life, a possibility, freedom. I am glad of this, but I also know that I would never have been able to come to this conclusion now had I not been just like those girls in the past.

1 comment:

  1. Completely agree. When I went back to uni to do my creative writing Grad Dip I was also 30 and thus positively ancient in the eyes of everyone else in the room. I had the exact same experiences that you've just described and I remember being so grateful that I hadn't done creative writing straight after I left high school because I probably would have wasted the opportunity. It was actually really wonderful going to class because I wanted to go, because I wanted to learn and because I liked it. Good luck with it all Shannon. BTW, as I was typing this I noticed an email pop up letting me know you've just posted on my blog. Great minds think alike!


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