With Age Comes Wisdom… sometimes

Mike Staton

Hi, I’m Mike Staton. I wrote this post.

I’ve always heard that wisdom come with growing old.

Hey, look at Ben Franklin. He grew wiser as he grew old. When I was a kid, Ben’s sayings sounded wise to me.

Nowadays, I have my doubts. Old Baby Boomers sound cranky, not wise. As I scroll through my Facebook newsfeed every day, I’m seeing way too much grouchiness aimed at the younger generations, the Millennials and Generation Z.

Basically, the Millennial Generation covers the birth years from 1976 to about 2004. I graduated from high school in 1970, and my sister in 1975. So in other words, the Millennials are our children.

Snowflakes

Many senior citizens keep sharing this illustration, acting as if young folks are not today serving in Iraq, Afghanistan, even Syria.

Generation Z, or the Post-Millennials or the Homeland Generation, is the latest generation. Researchers typically use the starting birth years that range from the mid-1990s to the early 2000s. So you can see that there’s a bit of overlap with the Millennials. I see Generation Z as the children of the Millennials and the grandchildren of Baby-Boomers.

Perhaps Generation Z will in time become known as the Cellphone Generation. They are the generation most comfortable with technological change. The oldest are now in their teenage years. For me, privacy is of utmost importance. Not so much for Generation Z if what I’m reading is accurate. Baby Boomers’ grandkids grew up using the Internet from a young age. This generation has done much of their socializing on social media sites like Twitter and Facebook.

What’s the most significant current event in their lives? Not the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. Many were too young or not even born when the passenger planes flew into the World Trade Center towers in New York City. What has shaped their worldview is the Great Recession. Commentators say it left them with feelings of insecurity and unsettlement.

Interactive learning2

Today’s the age of interactive learning in classrooms. For many senior citizens, it’s Future Shock.

I keep noticing a couple of ‘share’ illustrations that continue to pop up on my Facebook newsfeed, one in particular. It compares 18 year olds in 1944 to 18 years olds nowadays. In other words, the World War II generation, the men of the Normandy Invasion, to the Baby Boomers’ children and grandchildren, calling them crybabies and pantywaists. And who is sharing this particular illustration? Well, of course, Baby Boomers. Who do we think are serving our country in Afghanistan, Iraq and even Syria? Baby Boomers are relying way too much on sweeping generalizations. And to be brutally honest, many Baby Boomers have a bad case of amnesia when it comes to their own teenage years.

Cursive writing

Many senior citizens don’t like the idea of schools not teaching cursive writing to their pupils. I haven’t written a letter in cursive in decades.

I use to write letters in my younger days. In the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s I wrote letters to my maternal grandmother and to my mother. It was the way things were done back then. I wrote letters and I received letters, much like earlier generations wrote and received letters. In the late 1970s, I accompanied a fellow Civil War re-enactor to Cincinnati to check on some letters written by a Yankee soldier. My friend was considering purchasing any that included any personal information on camp life and battles. When it comes to traditional letter writing, I’m more connected to the people of the 19th Century than today’s younger generations. How things have changed!

Nowadays Generation Z kids barely need to write in cursive style. Instead, they can text on their cellphones or use email through their various accounts. I use Google, Yahoo and Facebook. For me writing letters is as extinct as the dinosaur fossils I’ve seen in museums.

1900 schoolhouse

The good old days… when kids were taught the basics — reading, writing and arithmetic.

In school back in the 1950s and 1960s, I used textbooks. Those too are headed the way of letter writing and dinosaurs. Nowadays it’s ebooks, laptops and tablets. Students today rely on interactive learning. I was an instructional developer from 1992 until 2008. I helped develop interactive computer-based training software for workers in the pulp and paper industry. It was a combination of traditional text, video and PowerPoint. It’s much more sophisticated as we draw closer to 2020.

When I see a Baby Boomer on Facebook having a hissy fit over the decision of schools to no longer put emphasis on cursive writing, I can’t help but start chuckling. It’s been a long time since I had much use for cursive writing. What am I doing now? I am using a laptop keyboard to type this blog post – not writing in cursive style with a ballpoint pen. In the late 19th century, kids made do with a slate and some chalk as they memorized reading, writing, arithmetic, history, grammar, rhetoric and geography. I wonder if early 20th century grandparents complained when education methods began changing in the 1920s.

Real Wadsworth HS

I went to school in this building in eighth and ninth grade back in the mid-1960s. It was built in 1922. For years it was the high school, but by the time my mom and dad enrolled me it was the junior high. Guess what? It’s now demolished.

Some conclusions from my research for this post? As we get into our 50s, 60s and 70s, it’s important not to get stilted in our thinking. When you retire, it’s easy to get bulldozed by technological change. There’s no longer a requirement to keep up with newer software because you’re not out there looking for a new job.

 

My final take? Stop thinking it’s 1970.

# # #

I’m an author with three fantasy novels to my credit – The Emperor’s Mistress, Thief’s Coin and Assassins’ Lair. The books make up a trilogy titled Larenia’s Shadow. A fourth novel, this one a historical romance set during the Civil War, is scheduled for publication in October. It’s called Blessed Shadows Dark and Deep. I’ve begun writing my second Civil War novel – Deepening Homefront Shadows. All my novels can be purchased via the website of my publisher, Wings ePress, as well as the websites of Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

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15 Responses to With Age Comes Wisdom… sometimes

  1. What an interesting comparison of generations. I’ve noticed some of the same things you mentioned

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Doris says:

    While I still write most of my work with pen and paper, the use of technology has changed the way we view the world. I don’t always think it’s a good thing. Overwhelment comes to mind, but if critical thinking skills are put into the mix it does help.

    Having worked with most of the younger generation, except the last one, human nature really doesn’t change all that much. It’s the way it expresses itself that becomes the dividing factor in my mind.

    Thanks for the new insight. Something we all need to step back and ponder. Doris

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mike Staton says:

      Back in the ’90s, I still wrote chapters with a pen and a notebook. Not anymore. I find it much easier to use a laptop and keyboard, even the edits are easier — at least for me. In the 1970s, I wrote an unpublished fantasy novel by pen and notebook and then typed it on paper using an ancient typewriter I got as a Christmas present about 1970. I was still using that typewriter in the mid-1980s. I mean… it was old; manufactured in the 1940s. It had so much character. I’d use white-out when I made typos. Ah, those were the days.

      Like

  3. Wranglers says:

    I loved three 70’s, and cursive writing, but if the kids don’t learn he to write it, we baby boomers will have a secret way to communicate. Sometimes, we do have short memories. We just didn’t have a public record when we were young. Thanks for not being a Grumpy Old Man. Cher’ley

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mike Staton says:

      Love your bit about we Baby Boomers using cursive as a secret language. Just as well cursive is on the way out. When I read something I wrote a couple of decades ago, I can hardly read it. I have terrible cursive handwriting.

      Like

  4. I believe that kids are missing out nowadays by not having cursive writing and memorizing the way that we had to at this age. They look everything up on the internet, but what do they retain? Yes, they’re savvy, much more than I ever was, but where’s the manners? Where’s the respect? I found little of that as a substitute teacher. Just my take. Barb

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mike Staton says:

      Remember those movies in the 1950s and 1960s about rebellious youth? Blackboard Jungle, Rebel Without A Cause, High School Confidential, Hot Rod Girl, The Delinquents, The Wild One (and all the other motorcycle gang movies that followed in the ’60s). I was a big fan of the Hell Angels movies when I was in college. My taste has really changed. I think they’re nearly unwatchable.

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  5. Nancy Jardine says:

    Very perceptive, Mike! As an ex-primary teacher I don’t regret so much that kids are no longer learning to write an almost calligraphy script – it’s more that I’m not sure they are using their brains enough as a tool for progress when texting, or using a keyboard with auto correct, can ‘dumb down’ the learning of language. If something becomes too easy, like using a calculator was, we’re not sharpening our brains in the same way that mental arithmetic skills did for me. Now, if those ‘mental’ skills are replaced in a progressive way and our brain capacity still being extended as children grow into adulthood then there should be no problem. It seems to me that my generation (Baby B) generally can’t see the evidence of current learning so well now and so don’t appreciate that it may still be happening but ‘just differently’.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mike Staton says:

      I’ve played a few online games in earlier days before I began devoting huge chunks of time to my writing. I’ve always felt that a good role-playing game demands critical thinking. Otherwise, your lovingly crafted character ends up dead. I first started playing D&D games in the 1980s around a table with newspaper friends long before the blossoming of the Internet Age, so I know how players as their characters have to work together to survive and reach their goal. Critical thinking skills are a requirement. Changing the subject, I’m finding it interesting that so many of you Wrangler bloggers write out your first draft. I stopped doing that twenty years ago. I find it much easier to edit using the Word’s editing functions.

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  6. Mike Keyton says:

    I remember dictation in schools, quietly listening and writing down notes, and despite everything that’s been said against this particular method, I found it a very efficient method of learning. And I speak as a teacher of over thirty years experience and when this particular method was ruthlessly abandoned in favour of child centred learning.
    Mind you, if you check out my blog this coming weekend, you’ll have a treat ref old fashoned learning 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mike Staton says:

      Makes me think of my college days. The lectures by the professors… the mid-terms and the final exams. I’d be taking notes like crazy as the professors lectured away. I had one professor whose method of teaching I loved. It was an English history course during the Stuart period. He role-played Charles I, and we asked him questions as if we were lawyers for Parliament. It was a fascinating class.

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  7. wyoauthor1 says:

    Great post, Mike, giving us much to ponder. Technology is great is so many ways, yet it’s also disconnecting people in many ways as well, and I believe a lot of compassion, kindness, and politeness has been thrown out the window since we have less face-to-face, personal interactions. We can be addicted to our phones and computers and thereby loose true connectivity: time spent in face-to-face conversation with people.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mike Staton says:

      The Millennials and Generation X folks don’t know what they missed out on back before the Internet Age. When I was in college, computer lab consisted of a big building with a room-size mainframe in it. Those were the days.

      Like

  8. Travis says:

    Well said, Mike. I agree. Things are changing and it is good for students to be up to date with the latest technology. We are in a competitive world and using traditional methods for tradition sake only doesn’t help anybody.

    Like

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