It’s not your fault for not paying attention I really have not blogged in a long time and I mean to put that right. So here goes.
Nearly through my second semester in the first year at university as a mature student. Gained a nickname from ‘she who must be obeyed’ as Mr Firsty irst First: that is what I have mostly been getting but it is becoming extremely hard to maintain. It is very strange being a student in my 50’s and constantly feel out-of-place. There is the working class thing too which can sometimes be awkward. Only the other day I gave an example of the wonderful French predilection for independent action on globalization issues in front of the class. You might have heard of the farmer and his use of that wonderful piece of farm machinery the ‘shit-spreader’ and how he unleashed a nourishing potential rarely associated with McDonald’s. I was swiftly reminded by one of my class mates that the name I was looking for was ‘muck spreader’. Not a hint of humour from him either, I had surely soiled his ears with my pedigree. This all seemed rather odd to me as the tutor had sworn on many occasions, and I could only wonder if the student was making a distinction based on authority; whereas I did not have the authority to swear.
Boundaries and groups, class distinctions and role-playing have all been on my mind for quite some time at university and feeling like an outsider has helped me develop a sensitivity about my environment which has had me chuckling to myself for weeks. Yes you will be glad to hear that I don’t just laugh at your misfortunes but my own as well. This outsider business is not all bad though as I tend to do the set reading and more as there is not much opportunity to socialize. I am perhaps a little jealous of the female mature students I have spoken to; as they have found a new role in their respective classes. Having experienced isolation at first, the younger class-mates quickly realised that the mature female students were always well organised and able to give assistance with assignments. They have somehow moved into a ‘mothering role’ and taken on a new identity which has overcome the barriers set by age at least. I on the other hand although a magnificent example of male 50 ish boldness also represent a perfect example of ‘stranger danger’ which this generation of students were brought up on as children. I am the physical personification of the modern bogey-man. Neither unfortunately do I look as friendly as I really am : I’m a real lamb honest . To make things worse at the start of the year I was often mistaken for the tutor when I arrived early for seminars. One occasion in particular I think is instructive on how judgements are made by people. When I say people I do mean people; there is nothing peculiar about these students they behave and react to the world pretty much as we do even though they do say ‘You know what I mean like?’ and my favourite ‘Its like’ at the beginning of the sentence scattered throughout and at the end. This form of diluting the full force of their argument is I think a form of modesty out-of-place in the academic world, but anyway I digress. Picture this: I am seated in the classroom having arrived early waiting for the tutor; because it is a large classroom with lots of space I have the standard two empty seats either side of me, just in case being old is contagious. Then a student who has never been to this class before as he has been off sick comes in and sits down in the teachers traditional place. He speaks to the young girls and asks if this is the right class etc. He has not noticed or has discounted the fact that he is sitting in front of the blackboard and a projector and computer equipment. There is a positive asymmetry to the room which has not affected his choice of where to sit. Why is that? Because he is sitting facing an old person who has no one sitting near them. I therefore must be the tutor. The fact that we are regularly taught by young male and female tutors who could be my grandchildren seems not to have affected their judgement one bit. In their defence however I mistook the tutor for a student in one of my early classes so it seems I can only point out these problems and not pass judgement. The only worry left is that I cannot see a role model for me other than ‘stranger danger man’. But don’t get me wrong I am having a great time. If I am scaring the kids Tough!