Age and Pedagogy

A recent Chronicle article discusses age and teaching through the lens of a magazine article called “Confessions of a formerly hot woman.” The author does a really nice job of pointing out how problematic associations between bodies and knowledge nevertheless manifest in very real ways in the classroom. A single pedagogy may not work forever; pedagogy must shift along with teacher embodiment.

“… in recent years, as I have moved into middle age, the concept of the “formerly hot woman” has returned to me in a different manifestation, one related to my professional identity as a professor of English. . . .  students are beginning to react differently to my pedagogical and advising strategies . . .”

I find this fascinating, and a little troubling. Moreover, I’m  a bit appalled at the lack of research in this area. (Maybe I’m using the wrong search terms.) Aside from this Chronicle piece, my initial searches have turned up only one relevant article on how pedagogy might change as teachers age. Everything else is focused on the age of learners, or turns up sources about the information/digital/internet “age.” The one piece I did find–an article from the journal Feminist Teacher–introduces some fairly insulting stereotypes about female teachers of reproductive age. I refuse to believe that the only way we can value the teaching of older women is by denigrating that of their younger counterparts, and thus I’m left with very little in the way of resources to think about how pedagogy changes with age. Perhaps this is an important direction for future research on teaching and embodiment.

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