Friday, July 3, 2015


Homogeneity.  Sociologists abound and their studies are legion.  This is no scientific analysis of human behavior.  It is simply some observations regarding humankind's proclivity to flock with like birds.

What portion of homogeneous divisions among us are natural and what percentage of them are artificial would be an interesting study.  Also, who believes what regarding these divisions would be of interest.

I recall an incident that occurred during my tenure as a public school administrator in which we were proposing a cross-graded continuous progress segment, a school-within-a-school, so to speak, in which students from ages six through eleven would be grouped together.  Ignoring the obvious fact that this is a homogeneous group in some broader definition, we found that when we opened the proposal for public discussion  some on either end of the liberal/conservative spectrum wanted to ignite a firebomb and throw it into the mix;

The ultra-conservative members of the community were armed and ready with charts and arguments all the way back to Adam and Eve to demonstrate that the "natural order" of things required that children should be grouped in  much narrower homogeneity, namely traditional graded age groups, else society would ultimately topple.

On the other hand there were those who adamantly pursued their own agenda, that is pipe-dream, that no order should be imposed at all, that the natural developmental processes of the human social and intellectual growth would take care of themselves, should we simply let children "decide" in their own time when they are ready for any given stage.

Our proposal was ultimately approved and a large number of students over a period of years functioned quite well in the broader "family" setting, but that is not the point of my rambling.

Last evening I attended a meeting of a group of people of "a certain age."  These people could correctly be identified as older people, but we are given to euphemisms, e.g., "Seasoned Citizens," "Keen Agers," "the Golden Years," and so forth.  Our group is called "Best Years Fellowship."

I have lived long enough now that I have been lumped in with the very students I taught when they were children in the public schools, for a number of the members of the group did indeed sit in my elementary classroom, lo those many years ago.

Where is the homogeneity?  Well, the groups would ultimately get pretty small.  There were but two people in the room besides me who were my age or older.  And the ninety-six-year-old guy could comprise a group all by himself.  I mean within our social reach, he has no peers.

The whole "age" thing is pretty dumb, anyway.  We are born, we live, some longer than others, and we die.  What our group has in common more than "age" is like-mindedness with regard to the way the world works and the ways in which we should work within it.  Instead of developing insular social groups in which people of like age "relate" to one another, why not a broad spectrum which includes everyone relating to each other?

I do not need interaction with other old poops so much as I need the stimulation of new ideas, new ways of viewing things.  And where will I find that?  Younger people, of course.  And trust me, the younger people would be well -advised to get close enough to their elders to allow some of the wisdom to rub off onto them.


Jim Grey said...

It is eye opening to read that people you taught in elementary school are now broadly considered to be of your age group.

I once taught a Sunday school class for "the elderly group," which meant roughly those 70+ (though a couple youngsters in their 60s sneaked in). I was astonished by how there were distinct generational differences that distinguished the younger vs. the older in that room. But it makes sense: there was a spread of about 20 years among my students.

I celebrated my 40th birthday with that class. I was asked how old I was, and when I said, Shirley exclaimed from the back of the room, "40! I don't even *remember* 40!"

Grace said...

Got that right!

vanilla said...

Jim, I enjoyed your story and now I am checking my memory for "40." Yes, I still remember; I am blessed. jsyk, the people who were in my class the first year I taught sixth grade are now 67 years of age. Except for the double-retainee who, I guess, must be 69 by now.

Grace, I appreciate the validation. It is said that even a blind pig finds an acorn once in awhile.

Secondary Roads said...

I've always enjoyed being of in a group of folks of different generations. This past year, I've been in a Sunday School class with ages ranging from junior high to fellow geezers. It was absolutely delightful.

vanilla said...

Chuck, celebrating the Fourth this evening with good people, aged 30 to 84. Good times.

Ilene said...

Though by some, I may be considered to be in the "senior" age group, I am happy to report that I am in the prime of my life. Others my age are running for POTUS. Maybe I should throw my hat in the ring. Now, that would be stimulation!

vanilla said...

Ilene, after the morning shower, halfway through the second cup of coffee: that is the prime of life for me; all downhill from there.

Not an ageist: I've no problem with people your age running for President. With sufficient nap time, I am sure she could function well enough. It isn't her age that is the problem but rather her general wrong-headedness.

Yet I could perhaps make a two-dollar contribution to your campaign if you throw your hat in the ring!