I smiled when I saw a recent article in Chronicle of Higher Education entitled "¡ Get in there now! " The article noted that many teachers remain in teaching positions well into the 70s and, in some cases, do not plan to establish a specific retirement date. The issue of retirement retirement first emerged in the 1990s, when a generation of newly trained doctors discovered that many baby boomers did not retire, which meant there were not enough academic jobs to aspire to new teachers. This trend continues today in the faculty group of universities throughout the country. The situation in universities is the result of two forces: tenure and law. Once a faculty member receives tenure, it is exceptionally difficult to fire him or her. Nor can the faculty be forced to retire as a result of a 1994 law that, as a means to eliminate the problem of age discrimination, ended the compulsory retirement for university professors at 70 years of age. Two decades later, some observers now wonder if the situation is creating very little rotation in the academy.
The tendency to work well in the golden years is also relevant in other contexts. For example, one in 10 baby boomers never plans to retire. This is more prominent in higher education, where teachers have the option to work as long as they wish. I am not opposed to teachers, or anyone else, working as long as they wish, as long as they can. Several faculty members at Pitt continue to be incredibly productive academics and excellent teachers well into the 1980s, but I know this is not always the case. I am afraid that the examples of teachers who remain in the classroom for too long will be used as evidence of why tenure should be abolished. After all, tenure is the driving force when mandatory retirement is not allowed.
Mind the Gap
It can be a challenge for students to interact with teachers from a different time. While the content of knowledge offered to students may be the same in all generations of teachers, the nature of teaching differs due to preferences and resistance to change often associated with age. The age gap between students and regular teachers is widening, and with it the gap in relatable teaching.
Many students expect and, in fact, prefer a practical approach to teaching instead of lecturing. Today's students are digital natives and thrive on all technical and web-based things. For many older teachers, this creates a disconnect between their teaching style and the processing of student information. Older teachers may want to disconnect the Internet in the classroom, while students want to use it to improve a traditional class. As the gap between the teaching approach and students' learning preferences widens, student learning may be affected. This could be a factor behind the too low 6-year graduation rates exhibited at many universities. It could also explain part of the resistance to change in higher education such as the older school's control curriculum and other requirements of students based on academic governance systems.
Simultaneously, some old professors regret that today's students are not as respectful or as capable as those of previous years. I regularly hear that some students are not good enough, despite the fact that test scores and admission factors suggest that the current generation is better than the past. I do not know if the fact that students expect more from faculty is causing setbacks or if the faculty's dedication to research is causing less time available to connect with students. Whatever the cause, it is clear that the expectations of teachers and students are divergent.
I know that students expect a different educational experience today; They tell me all the time. One of the challenges of having a generation of teachers used to giving a lecture is that many teachers do not have the coaching skills with which young people relate. Instead of speaking in them, students expect to participate in the classroom through exercises and the opportunity to discuss or discuss their own opinions and questions. The learning preferences of the students have changed and, therefore, it is important to have teachers that relate to the way in which students now absorb the information. In fact, the intensive and active classroom is the antidote to the widespread acceptance of online instruction. Ironically, by continuing a conference-based approach to teaching, schools accelerate the movement of students from mainstream institutions to online schools. This in turn probably increases frustration for both teachers and students.
The tendency of the previous generation not to retire is not limited to the education sector. It affects the economy in general since the younger generation is under pressure to compete for fewer and fewer jobs. In 2012, 41 percent of people over 55 were still working compared to only 29 percent in 1993. The US workforce is aging each year and staying in jobs that could block the progression of employees younger.
Keep in mind that part of this trend is the result of an increase in economic uncertainty for older people. According to a Gallup study on baby boomers and retirement trends, many boomers have significant debt, have not saved enough or rely too much on Social Security to retire comfortably, which was aggravated by the recession in 2008. The collapse The economic crisis provoked layoffs, losses of stocks and a deep decrease in the value of homes, which causes people to conclude that they can not retire. In other words, many baby boomers want to retire but can not afford to do so.
Many baby boomers are choosing to remain in the workforce for longer because they feel that work provides a sense of purpose in life. Bill Byham, a Pittsburgh businessman and perceptive author, wrote a book several years ago entitled 70: The New 50 in which he predicts that people will work longer for a variety of reasons. We may not see growth in retirement rates until physical limitations force people to stop working. And it is important to recognize that it is difficult for people to retire. Beyond the financial concerns already mentioned, many baby boomers have no hobbies, which gives them little to concentrate on outside of their work.
The youngest baby boomers are reaching 50 years this year. If they continue to retire later and later, the effect will be tremendous both in the field of education and in different industries around the world. We have to address this problem not only to ensure that the next generation has the same opportunity, but also to offer those who wish to withdraw the opportunity to do so and the opportunity to continue using their skills to make the world a better place.