I can’t believe they didn’t mention church

[Hi new readers!  Just wanted to say thanks so much for your support and notes.  It really means a lot!]

Modern Mrs. Darcy linked to an article in the Boston Globe on What Age Segregation Does to America.  I thought it was a fascinating read.  The gist is that we are even less frequently interacting with other generations.  (Except Kentucky and West Virginia apparently; check out that map.)

Grown-ups return to work, where they’ll toil alongside other working-age people. Children go back to their schools, neatly separated by grade. Millions of young adults will pack their bags for college, where they’ll live and work almost exclusively with their exact peers.

And with more seniors retiring to age-segregated retirement communities (does anyone else get the theme for The Villages stuck in their head?), the issue is exacerbated.  This is problematic because generations aren’t benefiting from the wisdom of others and it contributes to the “kids these days” and “those old fogeys” attitudes.

This makes sense.  But it hasn’t been my experience.  Except on the Hill where I think the median age was 27, my workplaces have been very age integrated.  At my old law firms, you had everyone from paralegals and new lawyers in their 20s all the way up to the guys wheeling around oxygen tanks.  I used to work with someone who had been a partner longer than I’ve been alive.  Not a lawyer longer than I’ve been alive, an actual partner.

I read The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home recently.  (Not saying I’m planning to home school, but it could be on the table.  If you asked me even two years ago, I never would have said that.)  When addressing the “what about socialization?” question home schoolers inevitably get, the authors point out that there are lots of opportunities for socialization (family, activities/clubs, community things, religious) that more closely resemble real world scenarios.

[T]hink about the type of socialization that takes place in school.  The child learns how to function in a specific environment, one where he’s surrounded by thirty children his own age.  This is a very specific type of socialization, one that may not prove particularly useful.  When, during the course of his life, will he find himself in this kind of context?  Not in work or in family life or in his hobbies.  The classroom places the child in a peer-dominated situation that he’ll probably not experience again.

Growing up, my church was probably my most “age integrated” experience.  I knew my friends’ parents, my Sunday school teachers, my basketball coach.  Activities like choir and youth groups combined multiple grades.

I’m no expert, but church attendance has been declining, yes?  (This assertion is supported by a quick search on the internets.)  I know my anecdotal experience does not a trend make, but it seems that some others out there probably experienced something similar if church was in the mix.  I’m just surprised the article didn’t discuss or even mention it.  That’s all.

5 thoughts on “I can’t believe they didn’t mention church

  1. maggie says:

    I completely get why WV and KY are more age integrated than the rest. When you are far away from most other people, you will socialize with whomever is available. This was extremely true in grad school where we were not only fairly age integrated but also integrated across education levels and occupational categories for social purposes. Now on a medium-sized campus, things are largely segregated out again.

    Our skeptics group is also quite age-integrated. I’m guessing that’s another example of having a small pool to choose from.

      • maggie says:

        Yes, there’s nothing quite like the memory of watching your boss’s boss doing a shot of tequila off the ice luge dressed as his favorite founding father and/or wearing somebody else’s pants to bring the gravity of a dissertation defense back into some sort of normal perspective.

  2. Martha says:

    Melissa, The Boston Globe article was an interesting read. Thanks for sharing. I’d never given it a name before, but having grown up in the 50s & 60s I’ve seen the separation of ages happening slowly over time. My grandmothers each actually lived in my childhood home for periods of time and I remember thinking nothing was unusual about that. I have fond memories of playing canasta and reading books together. The homeschooling idea really is simply going back to the one room schoolhouse of the 18th and 19th centuries where students of all ages shared one teacher and one room. This is what every mom does at home from the day she has more than one child! It’s not actually living it, but you can get an idea of how the generations lived and worked together by reading the Little House on the Prairie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder and sappy as it may seem The Waltons on TV did a good job of depicting how life was for many families years ago. My four sons each learned to care about younger people by working in the church nursery(and dealing with their brothers) and several volunteered at nursing homes. I felt that interaction was necessary since their grandparents lived so very far away. Our church also provided the opportunity for the youth group and senior groups to work together by putting on pot luck meals and activities for the two groups together.

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