“It terrifies me, the fragility of these moments in our lives.”
Wednesday, 2 November 2016
In defence of the annoying mature-age student
I like this piece by Stephen Owen. I have been a student all my life. I keep learning and working at the same time. I run courses for mature student of all ages. Asclepius offers you courses for all no matter what age. Please read and enjoy.....
are annoying, I know. I understand that when you’re 18 or 19, and
already know everything, there’s not much of a reason to do the
readings or show up to tutorials having prepared. I also understand
that there are these old people in class who should be doing other
things – maybe retiring, or dying so they can give their poor kids
their overdue inheritance. They are eagerly asking questions (or
worse, answering them) and generally being a nuisance.
understand because I used to be one of them. I dropped out of high
school to smoke cones and play bass guitar, which was pretty great
for a decade or so. I got pretty excellent at Tony Hawk’s Pro
Skater 1, 2, and 3. Then in my middish-20s I very accidentally fell
into a university preparation
program at the University of Newcastle.
I still smoked a lot of pot but now I also had some fascinating
classes to attend and some really cool ideas to get my head around.
year later I was granted entry to university proper. I saw a fair few
of my mature-age peers fall by the wayside, but I also saw a few
succeed. Like many mature age students I kept on going and graduated
with honours, and then attained my PhD. That’s the kind of annoying
thing mature-age students tend to do, far more often on average than
the regular student intake anyway.
I teach them. In fact, I have just finished preparing a batch of
mature-age students to annoy next year’s young first years.
students who have just finished the university
preparation program I’ve been teaching at
the University of New South Wales come from a diverse range of
backgrounds. Some came to Australia as asylum seekers. Some have
given up lucrative careers in finance or construction. Some prefer to
study rather than tending their gardens in retirement.
all juggle a number of commitments and have made sacrifices to even
begin their university careers. Almost all of them are amazed at the
world of ideas into which they have arrived, and in which they are
receiving the sort of intellectual nourishment that they thought was
strictly for people other than themselves.
was also my experience; it turns out that mature-age study is
transformative and can make you feel more at home with the world and
with yourself, even if it can lead to risky behaviours (like
know they are ridiculous and show up to tutorials with folders full
of printed out readings, minds brimming with ideas and concepts they
want to discuss. I often found myself in this position. But it may
surprise some to learn that, contrary to the cliche of the annoying
mature-age student occupying the airtime in class, most don’t
necessarily want to monopolise the discussion.
mature students' survival gui
likely to be waiting, counting away the seconds silently in their
heads in the hope that someone will want to talk about all of these
amazing ideas we’re learning about. Only after waiting for younger
voices to speak (but which often remain silent) do they begin
know I was particularly conscious of this. Now I’m at the front of
the classroom, I love those students who come prepared and ready to
discuss stuff. So here’s to 2016’s annoying mature-age students.