Written by Jordan Quigley
Age is a factor that can determine someone’s educational level, experience or skills. At the start of each unit, Ms. Angell asked us questions that caused us to think and use past experience to answer them. When we were asked these essential questions, we were allowed the privilege of hearing each student's responses and perspectives on each question. Ms. Angell asked us questions such as, “What is real?” and “What is your role in the community?” These queries pushed us to think deeper and provide evidence for why we thought a certain way. However, we only heard the responses from our classmates and we didn’t have the opportunity to hear the opinions of people of different age groups’. Perhaps age is a big contributor to the essential questions we were asked in class.
I interviewed three adults (Audrey, 35, Jane, 73, and David, 50) and Avery interviewed three younger people (Max, 12, Georgina, 8, and Anna, 15). We each asked the same questions in order to see how age influences thinking. The first question we asked was, “What is real and how do you know?” All of the people we interviewed said that something real is something that you can hear, touch, feel, smell, and taste. Adding to that, Jane said, “Real is alive and occurring naturally in the world, not artificial or man made. You know because of your five senses and experiences.” As they have gotten older and experienced more things, they have stopped believing everything that someone says, and instead, are using their own senses to determine if something is real. The children also said that something real has to be visible or that can be touched. Max added that “If I have a reliable source, like a teacher, a newspaper, or sometimes a parent, I know it’s real.” I think that the reason behind this is that children are young and so as a result, they often believe something somebody says because they believe that person is more knowledgeable than they are. By asking the same question, I was able to come to the conclusion that different age groups interpret questions differently based off their personal experiences because the adults used past knowledge and experience to explain what they thought was real. The children on the other hand, used knowledge from shows that they have watched or fictional books to answer the questions. This shows that with an older age, comes more knowledge, as seen with the adults responses in contrast to the children’s responses.
The second question that we asked was, “Have you ever witnessed an injustice?” When asking the people we interviewed about injustice, all of the subjects could not come up with a personal experience of unfairness, but instead they all gave their opinions on injustice. This was an interesting question because many people don’t realize when an injustice is taking place. The adults said that they have experienced or witnessed many injustices because they have experienced more events. As you get older, you start to realize more injustices and acts of unfairness that are occurring everyday. The children on the other hand, had barely any experience with injustice was because they are younger and haven’t experienced any unfair acts against them or their friends. In addition, as a child, one is not aware of unfairness because they are used to being treated kindly. This difference of responses from the older people to that of the children was not very shocking because I assumed that being older, the adults would have experienced more unfair treatment.
The third question we asked the people we were interviewing was, “How does your personality differ depending on the environment?” This question is interesting because I thought everyone’s answer would be the same, but some of the responses were different. The adults said that they acted differently at work than at home. The explanation behind this was that at home, everyone acts how they normally would because they are comfortable with their family. Generally when people are out in public, they are a lot more formal and aware of how they are acting, but when they are just with friends or at home they are a lot more relaxed. The children on the other hand, had different responses than the adults. The youngest child, Georgina said that she doesn’t really act differently depending on the environment, but for her, it depends on the person. She said, “No. It depends. If I’m with people I don’t know, I’m shy and if I’m with people I know, I’m myself. I always laugh with them.” I think that kids, especially those who are very young, don’t care as much what other people think, and as a result, aren’t fake in different environments. From the responses to this question, I can infer that adults often times have to act differently based their environment, whereas kids don’t necessarily care about impressing people because they are young.
Having a role in the community and establishing what that might be is what the Social Justice Pathway is all about. The last question Avery and I asked was, “What is your role in the community and why is it important?” This question definitely shows how age influences thinking because the kids and adults had a variety of responses. Everyone has a role in the community, but some people interpret it in different ways depending on their ages. Jane, who is retired, mentioned that it is different for different people, but as you get in your mid twenties to sixties, people believe that they have a more significant role in their community because most adults have jobs and are successful and have an impact on peoples’ daily life. Jane added that, “I am not very active in the community anymore, I don’t really do anything that constitutes having a significant role.” People who are retired often feel that they are not capable of being part of the community because of their lack of jobs and activeness in their neighborhood. When we interviewed the three children, their responses insinuated that they feel that being the younger generation, that they are not capable of having a significant role in their community yet. Children don’t tend to think that they hold an important position in their community because they are still in school and therefore haven’t accomplished much yet. The three adult responses were slightly different because their ages range from thirty-five to seventy-three. Audrey replied that she defines a role in the community as a job, and since she is a nurse, she believes that by improving people’s health, she is impacting the people around her. Audrey added that, “I think that by being a nurse, I am directly impacting my community.” David defines his role in the neighborhood as a father, because he is directly helping his kids learn and grow in the real world. In addition, David states that, “My biggest responsibility is being a father and helping my children become successful, kind people.” These drastic differences between the broad range of six people show how age can influence thinking because as a retired woman, Jane feels as though she is incapable of being significant in her community. On the other hand, Georgina, the youngest person we interviewed, felt that she didn’t have a role in the community because of how young she is. All of these people interpret community in a different way based on their age.
By getting people of different ages to answer questions that we were asked in class, it allowed me the capacity to understand the relationship that age has to thinking. When asked these questions in the classroom, I was given a very narrow perspective on how people thought and why. Having the opportunity to see other peoples perspectives showed me that depending on your age, people interpret things differently. From believing and proving what is real and why to the basic question of your role in the community, I was shown the massive differences of thinking that coincide with ones age. To the youngest person we interviewed, Georgina, to my seventy-three year old Grandma, the responses were vastly different which proves my inference that age is a factor that can influence thinking.