Between a Hard Rock and a Place.

August 3, 2008

Mature-age Upstarts

Filed under: Generational — camharris @ 11:24 pm

Starting back at uni this last week has been interesting.  Coming into dual coded units where there is a mixture of post grad students and undergrads presents some challenging dynamics.

One of my tutors is probably about my age, and I feel as though I might be one of only a few post grad students.  The rest seem to be largely Generation Y.  Now I am not going to generalise and say that this group of society need to take a good hard look at themselves, but they do, generally.

During the introductory workshop, we are all in front of computers, one each.  Mr Tutor had about 40 minutes of information to get through and instructions to convey.  During the 40 minutes, my eyes were glued on him, making sure he knew that I was giving him the respect he deserves.  The odd occasion I did look around the room, almost every Gen-Y student were looking at their own computer, playing around with the settings, opening this, closing that, shifting this file to there and so on.  Some gits even had their headphones on while Mr Tutor was speaking.  Not eye contact, no acknowledgement, no response.

‘These young upstarts!’ I thought.  They obviously don’t have a hint of a clue about how you should behave in big-peoples-school.  I felt like giving them all a good verbal clipping of the ear.  Anyway, it seems it didn’t really bother Mr Tutor that much.  He may have become accustomed to it over the years, but it drove me crazy.  I would have written their names on the board by now and given at least 8 crosses, not to mention a few direct stares accompanied by a nasally “I’m waiting!”

Looking back though, and sometimes I do, I can vaguely remember the distinctly immature way I behaved as a weedy undergrad in the presence of tutors and their closest allies, the mature-age students.  As a tutor, if a mutiny is to break out, it would be the mature-age students who would form a human shield of protection and shuffle you to the door, allowing you to escape while they took the blows from the masses.

I remember running up the stairs of a lecture theatre mid lecture in my wet bathers, and then being surprised when the lecturer stopped his monologue to address my disrespectful entrance.  Or the time that a tutor stepped out of the room for a brief moment (all too brief I found out) while a small group of us went through his academic records folder to find out our marks for an assessment.  It was one of those occasions where the two or three others knew when to peel back to their seats, leaving me the only one standing with my nose in his folder when he waltzed back in.  The scolding he gave me sent me back to Year One when I got told off by the gardener for walking on the grass. I am surprised I didn’t actually wet my pants this second time around.  Then there was the time that a friend and I spent the best part of an afternoon turning the gymnasium into the world’s first indoor hovercraft course using gym crash mats.  A few land-speed records were set, but a few crash mats became terminal within a short amount of time.  I could go on.

So I guess these Generation Y upstarts may actually be just a varied version of what us X’ers were in the early nineties.  It also became more apparent to me that history was indeed repeating itself.  Before I knew what was going on, I realised I was probably the oldest student in the class, I had chosen a seat right up the front and I stayed back and talked to the tutor afterwards.  “Could it be possible that the rest of the class thinks that I am a mature-age student?” I thought. 

It wasn’t long before I was working out how to create an effective human shield and memorising the closest exits.

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