Today’s paper carries a so-called story about the college at which I taught for the last 15 years of my academic career. Said college is not the #1 school in the country, but it is a fine institution, with a well-deserved reputation for its beautiful campus, for its tradition of teaching students to give back for the privileges they have received, for its innovative programs, its first-class faculty, its amazing athletic teams who all manage to carry high grade point averages without special attention from hired tutors. I could go on, but you get the idea. It’s a great school, and I’m proud of it.
So what have they done to capture the attention of the local paper this time? It seems they have announced that they are going to make changes in their adult education program. For thirty years or more they have invited people from the community to attend short classes taught by the faculty. They have offered the courses simply for the benefit of those who want to engage with fascinating people about interesting topics.
Now the college says they will be making some changes to integrate these courses more closely with programs that are happening on campus — lecture series, community roundtables, guest speakers of national reputation. They also intend to use emerging technologies to expand access to these programs nationwide. Did you realize what I wrote? They are going to CHANGE things. (I’ll wait while you all gasp in unison.)
The bulk of the article consists of interviews with current partakers of this feast of information. I recognize most of the names. And I know that most of them are old. (I’m allowed to say that since I freely admit to being old myself. At 76, I can say what I like, although I do my best not to sound like an absolute idiot.) They’ve been attending these classes for thirty years, and “THAT’S THE WAY WE HAVE ALWAYS DONE IT!”
Apparently no one has yet released the details of the new plan, but these folks already know that it’s not going to work. “We’re going to lose everything,” one cries dramatically. Another says, “Well, it’s certainly not good for me, so how can it be good for the college?” Doesn’t that just make you want to shake him and scream, “It’s not about you!”
I’m still trying to decide whether I’m more upset with the complainers or with the newspaper for giving them most of the article to vent their silly gripes. The college spokesperson gets the last word, but it’s only one sentence long.
Whatever happened to the idea that old age imparts wisdom and dignity? This morning, all I saw in this article was a bunch of old geezers who don’t want anybody to take their toys away. Maybe those adult education courses didn’t work so well after all.