Back to School


Hello. It’s been a while since. I’ve been busy.

Signed up for a course which I thought would be a breeze but it turned out more intense than expected.

I was resisting on the first day. The class was filled with young people. I felt like I was baby-sitting rather than attending lessons. Even the trainer looks like a kid to me.

Honestly, what could they teach me that I don’t already know?
That’s my ego talking. I have no control of it. Abandoned that part of me long ago somewhere on the road to the mountains but occasionally it finds its way back.

Where am I? Ah, the course. By the way do you find my writing is all over the place, like the thoughts of a disoriented person?

That’s it. The course isn’t difficult but not having been in a class for so long can be disorientating.

Imagine eight hours listening to lectures, discussing in groups, doing energiser activities, reflections – how do you feel, what have your learned…..the kind of things I used to make people do before.

So I resisted. Yes, I mentioned that already. Get to the point, I know.

This course is about adult learning which is different from teaching – andragogy vs pedagogy that sort of thing.

Seems that adults learn better without being taught. The old saying ‘you can bring a horse to water but can’t make it drink’ is so true.

Talk about horses. I almost forgot. It’s still Chinese New Year and we’re at the beginning of the Year of the Horse. An energetic zodiac sign galloping with successes we hope.

It’s good tradition to start something new this year so I’m really pleased to have started this course. After a few days, I started to enjoy being part of this group of strangers (no more) and the learning starts with my much younger new friends.

I’m not the oldest in class. There’s a 70+ retired accountant who started his career on abacus, then calculator and left his last job working on an accounting terminal, the black and green screen that he still had nightmares about.

He’s a dear but also a disruptive learner. Speaks extremely loudly due to his hearing aid, repeats his words all the time, argues with the trainer, interrupts conversations and pinches food from other classes.

Everyone’s really patient with him so far but not yesterday, the last day of one module where we had to complete an assignment for presentation. You can understand the stress level.

Our old friend hasn’t been paying attention in class, slips in an out as he wishes and misses out on most of what we discussed earlier.

When it was his turn to present, he couldn’t figure out how to work the pc and the software, his work was a massive chunk of words lifted from the course material and he couldn’t find the text needed to make a point.

A couple of sniggers from the young ones. The trainer suggested some help but was told off. A few more giggles.

He messed about his work for a bit and started talking to the screen. This time there’s clear laughter. Snide remarks from somewhere on the left and right. More laughter.

It was horrible. The poor gent was trying this best at the front and he was being jeered by people who could be his grandchildren.

I had to stop it before it turned into a full circus. The trainer intervened as well. Things got under control. The lesson progressed on.

Last night, I thought about how it would be in your 70s learning alongside with younger people.

At mid-century, boomers are still able to follow technologies and concepts, keep pace with most of the masses and not be a burden to the rest. Past 70, it’s going to be harder when the hearing, sight and reflexes deteriorate.

I come to admire my septuagenarian friend. He taught me about tenacity and courage. He’s doing the course so he could help friends his age. He’s the one out in the wild learning new tricks of the world so he could bring back to his pack. He’s shown me what adult learning truly means.

If the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players; then life must be a school, and we’re both teachers and learners to each other.



One thought on “Back to School

  1. Joan – glad to see you back blogging; enjoy your posts. Here’s one septuagenarian who can’t relate to the gent in your class.

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