Social conflicts are evident everywhere in the world. Racism and sexism are spoken about and debated very often in political and personal arguments. However, ageism is a prominent issue that is not heard of too often in today’s society. Ageism is the discrimination and stereotyping of a person because of his age.
Diversity elective teacher Judy Aronson created a unit on Ageism this year for students to learn about the varied aspects of discrimination present in society because of age. The unit concluded with several trips to the Lillian Booth Actors Home in Englewood, an assisted living and nursing care facility, to talk to residents.
“It’s been really valuable, the friendships that have been made have just been wonderful.” Ms. Aronson stated. ” Students who were reluctant to go came back and were just so excited by it and couldn’t wait to go back.”
Students were paired up with senior citizens from the home. Ms. Aronson provided some questions in case students were at a loss of words. Some of the stock questions were, “What is your favorite thing to do for fun?” and “What are you most proud of in your life?” These questions sparked conversations that both parties enjoyed.
Sophomore Samantha Rodriguez was nervous about going to the nursing home and interacting with different people. At first, she stated she was “shaky” about going to the home but she gradually got used to it and enjoyed her experience. Her elder partner seemed like a friend.
“She made me feel like she was actually worried about me, like she actually cared about me.” Samantha said.
Many new understandings about ageism came out of the trips.
“Student responses to what they heard and just the genuine enjoyment that they felt were really gratifying, for me,” Ms. Aronson said.
Ms. Aronson plans to teach the unit again so that more students in the Diversity class will be able to experience relationships with the elders at the home. Perhaps ageism will become a thing of the past if more understanding is achieved between people of different ages.