The opposite of a silver lining

Class last night was less than fun. If you don’t want to hear me complain about it, I totally understand. Come back in an hour or two and I’ll have a much more upbeat post (with pictures of pretty things) to entertain you.

I’m frequently mistaken as being younger than I am. About 7 years, consistently. The last two weeks in my Saturday class there’s been a discussion in my small group where the others can’t believe I’m not 25. I know when I’m 40, I’ll appreciate this more, because right now while I don’t necessarily think that I’m as old as I am, I do want to be given credit for the years of experience and knowledge I have.

When I was 25, a tow truck driver asked me what high school I went to. At my last church, during a mission trip one of the staff at the shelter consistently mistook one of the high school girls as the leader, and ignored me, even though I was the oldest one in the room. Several years ago, I was hit on by someone I would consider a child – it was icky.

So, it’s not all roses looking younger. has the same problem. She has the dream that one year, during parent teacher conferences, she won’t get asked if it’s her first year teaching. (She’s 30. She has two children and has been married for seven years. She’s definitely not 22.)

Well, last night I had one of those unpleasant experiences myself. And I wouldn’t even bring it up here, except that I’m still upset about it 12 hours later, and, well, isn’t that the benefit of having a blog? Getting to complain whenever you want to?

We usually spend most of my Thursday night class in small groups discussing (it’s a classroom management class). Last night I ended up with two ladies who are much older than myself. By “much older” I mean that they have children in high school or older. One of them has technically worked as a teacher before, but is not licensed (I think she was at a small private school). The other one, I’m not sure what her experience is, other than as a parent. That said, we’re all graduate students, and we’re all there for a reason (mainly that we need that class to get the licensure we all so desperately want).

It seems that my two group members were unable to recognize their status as student. They had strong opinions (we were discussing rules and routines), which is good, but the conversation quickly went from “this is the way I would do it” to “you need to….” The you was directed at me. Really? Because I’ve taken the literacy class, and while I understand the importance of literacy, I don’t think that I have to start every class period with a journal prompt, thankyouverymuch. I don’t have to do things your way. I’m sure those ways work fine for you, but they wouldn’t work for me. But they seemed to take it upon themselves to educate me in the vast superiority of their methods and experience. They treated me like I was about 20 years old with no experience at all, which was beyond patronizing. (Sidenote: I hate it when people are patronizing without even getting any background information first, offering to “help” before finding out if you need it, assuming that you need their expertise without asking what your experience is. Huge, major pet peeve of mine.) About a third of the way through, I stopped listening, and really stopped participating in the discussion too, since it became clear they weren’t going to listen to anything I had to say. I just smiled and nodded and hoped we’d be done soon.

I realize that I could have been much more… aggressive or confrontational with my opinions. But that’s not really my style, nor do I think it’s appropriate. Just because they were pushy doesn’t mean I need to be. That’s not how the discussion was supposed to be. Plus, they hadn’t even paid attention to the directions for the discussion (which remained up on the screen for reference), and obviously had their own bias and things they wanted to “discuss” (i.e. tell others how to do it). It was a total waste of time.

And now I have to find somewhere else to sit next week so that I’m not in a group with either of them, because I just don’t need that. We all have something to bring to the conversation. The conversation is supposed to be along the lines of “this is what I think” or “I would do this,” not “it has to be done this way, which just happens to be my way, because it’s the best, and really only, way.”

Thankfully, class was very short, and we got out an hour early. I had a headache by the time we left, and took some Advil and stopped off at JoAnn on my way home, so as to avoid spreading my bad mood around too much.

I feel like I should add that most of my classmates (throughout the program, not just this semester) have been lovely people. Very few of them seem to think that they know everything (a handful stand out, but that’s a pretty small percentage). Mostly everyone realizes that we’re all in this learning process together, and while we’re at different stages, it’s a journey and no one’s input is better or more important than anyone else’s. (The exception to this being, sometimes, the undergrad students, and then it’s more of a lack of perspective that we all have when we’re 20, thinking that we know everything and feeling the need to share our own importance with the world. I’ll forgive that, since we’ve all been there. But it’s pretty obvious when it’s a development/personal growth thing versus a whole personality thing.) And I enjoy that whole collaborative learning aspect. We all have things to learn from others, and in order for it to work, sometimes you have to listen, and sometimes you have to talk. I enjoy the listening part, but not nearly so much when I never get my turn to share.

Alright, I’ll put the issue to bed. Next up? Pictures of my grey dress and cream shawl, and a question about jewelry. Later? Easter green Dupioni silk thoughts. An interesting day, to be sure.