I’ve been meditating a lot about going back to school at my *ahem* perfectly reasonable age, and how the experience differs from my first time around.
One aspect of that is power. There is already such a charged power dynamic between teachers and students. The teacher has all the knowledge, sets all the rules, measures and judges the students. Add to that the additional authority of age that a teacher (usually) has over a student. It’s a wonder more teachers don’t get a little heady from the position.
But it’s a dynamic I’m largely immune to now. For starters, I’m older than a fair number of these teachers. I’ve had the luxury of being treated like an adult for a great number of years, and I’m not yielding that simply by walking into a classroom. And I’ve had the great fortune to work with some extraordinarily smart individuals.The intellectual prowess of a grad student teaching Calculus 1 does not, all by itself, set me aquiver. I’m respectful of the position, and hugely appreciative of someone who is really good at it. But I’m definitely not cowed by it.
Another significance difference involves money. Seemingly all my memories of being in school the first time involve money. I remember calculating if I could delay buying a textbook until the following week, so i would have money to buy food for the weekend. There were a couple of years where I had to alternate going to school a term, then working a term, trying to make ends meet. It is a completely different experience to be able to go to school without issues like that hanging over your head.
The last big change I’ve noticed involves the internet. When I first went to school, registering for classes involved huge lines in massive ballrooms, endless waiting and incredible frustration. Today, it’s all done on-line with barely any effort at all. Requesting transcripts can be done online. Getting a report on your progress towards degree requirements is done online. Heck, I’m amazed I can email my instructors and get answers to challenging homework problems.
This is all a long-winded way of saying that I’m really enjoying the school experience. So far. Let’s hope the enthusiasm holds out for a couple of years. 🙂