Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Old Codgers and Young Whippersnappers

I was an adjunct instructor at Ozarka College In northern Arkansas in 2001 to 2006, where I taught computer classes in the evenings, usually two classes per semester, at facilities in Melbourne and Ash Flat. Every desk had a computer, tied into the main system at the Melbourne campus.

The students generally came in two varieties -- youngsters not far out of high school who had considerable computer skills and older people who wanted to learn about computers so the could make use of their home PCs.

One thing I learned along the way is that a teacher never stops learning. For example, there is a big difference between young whippersnappers (younger generations) and old codgers (older generations).

One semester at the Melbourne facility, there were 18 students in my Microprocessor Applications class. Four of them were older students, in their 40s and 50s. These four students had impeccable attendance records and the four highest overall grades, based on computer projects and tests. The rest of the students were a year or two out of high school. With few exceptions, they had spotty attendance and didn't seem to put forth an effort equal to their older counterparts. By the way, everyone in that particular class was a female student, thus these differences had nothing to do with gender.

One semester at the Ash Fat facility, I had 11 students in my Introduction to Computers class. There were five older students, ages 30 to 75, and six students fresh out of high school. Once again, the five older students had good attendance records and the five highest overall grades, even though they knew less about computers at the outset than the youngsters.

This isn't exactly a scientific survey, but from my point of view old codgers seem to have a strong ethic to succeed while young whippersnappers have a strong yearning to slide through life with the greatest of ease.

Having interviewed and hired people in the past as the Lead Programmer and General Manager of a Computer Software Company, it's been my experience that the best workers are the ones who actually show up and put forth an effort once they get there. A strong work ethic and eager attitude (beyond the false persona of the interview process) were always major requirements when I hired people.

Having finished college is also a must. An employer is more willing to hire someone who has demonstrated they can finish what they started rather than some hotshot who quits in the middle. Being smart is secondary to a good work ethic. And being a class clown only helps if you want to become a comic or a writer.

There seems to be a generation gap throughout society these days. Many young people don't want to take responsibility for their own future. It's as though they expect some outside force, such as an omnipresent government, to control their world so they can just float through life without encountering too many obstacles or making too many decisions.

In a recent poll of 100,000 high school students, only 51% believe newspapers should be allowed to publish content without government approval and 20% feel people should not be allowed to express unpopular views. Apparently fascism is a desirable concept among an alarmingly large percentage of the youth of America.

Obviously, there are real differences between generations.

Young whippersnappers worry about the driver's test – old codgers worry about the vision test.

Old codgers remember where they were when JFK was assassinated – young whippersnappers remember where they were when INVASION OF THE ZOMBIES came out.

Young whippersnappers arrange for their next KEG – old codgers arrange for their next EKG. 

Old codgers move to Arizona because it's warm -- young whippersnappers move to Arizona because it's cool.

Young whippersnappers often have long hair – old codgers often long for hair.

Old codgers fought wars for freedom of speech – young whippersnappers believe in freedom of speech as long as you get government approval first and don't say anything disagreeable.

If you want to get ahead in this world, show up and do the work. If you want to goof off, move to San Francisco. I've been there a few times -- it didn't take very long to get past it, but I still have a little bit of goof-off in reserve.

If you believe in freedom, fight for it. If you want to be a slave, empower those in charge to monitor everyone more closely and suppress unpopular thought, and perhaps build "re-education" centers for those who stray.

Government is dominated by those who yearn to control others. It becomes increasingly powerful by eroding liberty, requiring conformity and demanding obedience.

When you lose your individuality, you lose your soul.

Quote for the Day -- "What a teacher is, is more important than what he teaches." Karl A. Menninger

Bret Burquest is the author of 9 books, including THE REALITY OF THE ILLUSION OF REALITY and 11:11 EARTH TIME (available on Amazon). He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a dog named Buddy Lee and where Old Codgers continue to pass skills onto Young Whippersnappers.