Young people complaining about old people is a first-degree cliche. So we just want to clarify: that’s not the point of this editorial.
The point is that universities are one of the few environments where a large group of people in their early twenties spend their days listening to and learning from people twice their age. And this age gap affects faculty-student relationships more than we may realize.
While some students might complain that professors should have a required age of retirement, the comment is inapplicable. Those students believe there is a threshold at which a professor becomes so old that the knowledge they are imparting is irrelevant.
We think this threshold doesn’t exist with certain subjects such as Bible or history, but it may be worth noting in areas where the professors’ relevancy to current technology and research is essential in preparing students for the state of the professional world. In fact, students should actually be ahead of the curve while in college; otherwise, they will enter the real world already behind.
Subject areas involving the use of technology are growing. Industries students are entering are evolving rapidly. Subjects that involve business, data, journalism, arts, coding or any digital aspects demand professors who can provide the most relevant curriculum.
While it’s always important to have circulating ideas and stimulating conversations in the classroom, that doesn’t always require a particularly younger professor. Bible classes and language classes could benefit from older faculty, given that they have studied the subject in more depth than their younger counterparts.
The issue ultimately lies in a professor’s ability to prepare a student for their professional life outside of college, which is not always hindered by older professors, it all relies on the situation.
So next time you hear a fellow student complaining about how old and unrelatable a faculty member is, take into account the actual material they are learning before jumping on board.
And before signing up for the youngest professor’s class just so that you can drop pop culture references in the reseach paper, make sure they have the experience you’re looking to learn from.