Ageism & ELT

Let me start by asking this – do you love your teaching job?

Let me now ask, can you imagine teaching until you die?

I can. I really can. I don’t know what the future holds but right here, right now, I can imagine being old and teaching, loving teaching.

Now let me ask – do you think you’d be allowed to? Teach that is – when you’re say 68 years young or 72/73? Probably not and I think that unfortunate. And it happens to a helluva lot of teachers, day in and year out. Do you think ageism exists in our field – English Language Teaching? Have you ever experienced it or know someone who has?

This post is to bring this issue into the light of day. Please tell me what you think by commenting….

I am raising this issue because this year, I’ve got contacted quite a few times by teachers who love teaching, with a lot of experience but who can’t get a job doing what they love. Why? They are “too old”.

And I’m at a loss as to what I can advise.

I tell them that they can find a job if they truly love teaching. Just hang in there, I say. Some school will want them. Too often than not, that isn’t true. Too often than not, they have to go further afield, further out on the fringes of the ELT world. And I think that is wrong.

Now I know governments have to operate by rules. I know private schools prefer blonde and bouncy. Now I know that teaching is a demanding job. I know all this – what I don’t know is why someone in good health, with a vast amount of experience, can’t find a job teaching? Why the bias, why don’t we stop this and raise our voices in our staff rooms, lunch rooms and board rooms?

And it is even just as bad getting elderly people into our classrooms when they are NOT even teachers! As a public school teacher, I advocated bringing the elderly in our community, into our school’s classrooms. I got nowhere! It was an insurance issue. Parents would complain, yadda yadda yadda…. Our class had to be satisfied trekking to the old age home once a week. God forbid they’d show up in our classroom – though many could have worked me under the table!

What I’m asking is — why the societal and institutional bias against the elderly teaching our children, either formally for pay or informally, for the love of it?

What are your thoughts and experiences?

To those teachers I’ve emailed about this – keep looking. It’s worth it.

Also published on Medium.

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