[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.