First, age and experience aren't necessarily tied together. I should have made that more clear in the post. The truth is that I know plenty of teachers in their first year who are older than me. So, on some level, we have an issue about perceptions, both in terms of age and professional experience.
I think there are these unspoken perceptions tied to age, experience and cultural values that often go unchallenged. Instead of trying to flesh them out in a long blog post, I'll just list a few. Hopefully, I can be more nuanced this time. So, the following is a list of myths about age and experience. I use "myths" here, because these are not always true or untrue. They are simply the collective cultural mythology about age and experience.
- Teachers who are older are less tech savvy than people who are younger.
- Young teachers are too idealistic and unrealistic. I see this in all of the myths about millennials being flighty and irresponsible.
- The most innovative teachers are those who are new to the profession.
- People who are younger are more relevant and "get" kids better.
- Experience isn't all that important. It's a mindset that says, "You can be great really quickly." The truth is that it takes years to refine your craft as a teacher. Some people get it at a young age. Some people have experiences outside of the teaching profession that allow them to get it even faster. And some veterans never got it in the first place. But if we believe in a growth mindset, we have to believe that it takes time.
- Being young means you are less wise or less mature.
- Someone who is younger cannot lead someone who is older. It's the belief that an older staff is unwilling to listen to someone who is younger.