The old and the young, we can each not only love one another, but also we can learn from one another. We don’t live our lives in a vacuum. From the time we are born, we come into a world that holds many generations. Broad generalities are just that, of course. But I think I see some evolution over time. Throughout our lives, we interact with so many people of different generations and life experiences. I have found it really interesting to reflect on, to try to put myself in the environment of others than my own, perhaps to gain some wisdom from the experiences of each. To some extent, in this world, we inhabit different worlds.
Because I taught high school English for so many years, I learned so much from my students about changing social landscapes and about how they were responding to and were also influencing such changes. As teachers, we are involved in our students’ own culture through things other than just classroom interaction, which in and of itself is really enlightening, but also from things that might seem inconsequential….especially from their music. There are many, many music genres which appeal to many different groups of adolescents. Over the years, I was able to understand that kids drawn to a certain genre often share similar life experiences, attitudes, and interests. We may all know, perhaps especially writers who often write of what they have experienced and observed, a very important reality. The high school experience is not homogenous. English can be one class in which fuller expression and individuality can blossom because we speak of ideas and life experiences and values many times when discussing what we read and write. We respond, share with one another, learn from one another. We also write and sometimes, without pressure, share what we write.
That’s why I loved my high school after-school writers group, which met weekly. Even within a group of 10-14 writers, usually, there was the advantage of having kids from different grade levels and different social groups, and even different socio-economic groups, writing and sharing with one another. The more experienced tended to be mentors, open to learning from the work of the younger writers. But, of course, some of the young writers had already written a lot and were ready to hone their work. Sharing in small groups of three or four, when ready they went to sharing with all. It was absolutely wonderful. I also know that my own writing expanded because of the things I learned from them.
Again, here I go, talking about how very important I believe it is for us as writers to share our work, the great resource writing groups are to us as writers. And again, I’m expressing how valuable I find the online community for its opportunity to let writers share their own work and experience and appreciate the work of other writers. And, once again, I truly love that we are sharing across generations…young, old, and everywhere in between.