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Sunday, January 29, 2012

Age ain't nothing but a number here

A dear friend and faithful reader as a verrrrry important question about issues with ageism and teaching here. One thing I was worried about when I agreed to teach at the training college was the age issue. I am practically in the same age group as these students. There are many that are older than me, some married! Also, my colleagues are much much older than me... Ghanaians have thing thing about respecting adults and those who have authority over you (i.e. teachers) and to be honest, I haven't had an issue with my students because of that unwritten rule. Since I've started, I made sure to establish how serious I am with my expectations and I think that has prevailed above all. I stay true to my word, put all of my heart in teaching and they respond to my dedication by being best students they can be. My students have remained respectful and kind and see me as madam first, age-mate second. That doesn't mean there are a snarky few who try to call me by my first name or yell out how beautiful I am when I walk by. (Why thank you!) But I have to bite my lip to stop laughing because it's so funny how everyone sees me as "madam" and I'm barely 25. I heard one of my students chatting with her dad about me and she said, "oh, she's about 29, 30 years old". Ha.

I taught a district wide workshop to 100 primary school teachers on creating teaching learning materials to use in their English class. Majority of these teachers were twice my age and when they walked into my room, they just looked so surprised. I shocked them all the more by telling them that I'm a Ghanaian as well. But I taught a fun and great lesson and everyone was attentive and respectful the whole time. One older older lady approached me and thanked me for "coming back" to help out other people. I wonder if people's respect comes from my sense of duty and service to Ghana above my age and youthfulness. Either way, it makes my experience all the more pleasant and as grateful as they may feel about my presence here, the exchange of gratitude is mutual.


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