Conflation between age, learning and maturity

We live in a system where younger people learn and older people teach. We also live in a society where older people have privileges and authority younger people don’t. I’m thinking grade school and high school  here. Unfortunately those two things get so conflated in our heads that as we get older, we hang onto that confusion or worse, can’t lose it.

Two bad sequelae from this confusion. First, younger people (think grad school, residents, fellows) assume that if they are still learning, then they don’t have the authority that perhaps they might. I know this flies in the face of “the entitled younger generation”. Yes I know young people who believe that they should have it all, and have it now. But I also know lots of  young people who don’t trust their thinking and judgement as much as they can and ought.

The second bad consequence is that older people, content in their authority and privilege, are oblivious or ashamed to be learning because it might mean that they are young and immature and will lose their privilege. The best role models I have had are always called “young at heart”. I think that is the wrong the label. What we are calling “young” is really human and alive and vital.

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