Teaching is a two-way street and not all students learn the same. Marilyn Englander has this Perspective on the difference that age and life experience make.
After working with teenagers for years, I began teaching English to adults too. I’ve been astonished to discover how differently adults approach learning.
My adult students are varied in age, economic status, life experience. Some work tough physical jobs, but others are wealthy, well-traveled. I have to approach them differently than teens.
Teens regard learning as they do food, gulping it in fistfuls like candy, or pushing it away with disgust, like cooked broccoli. They accept that teachers are feeding them, so to speak. But, the adults view class more like a dinner party. They politely try the knowledge that I serve, even when it causes some mental indigestion.
Socializing is the priority for teens. They whisper or pass notes in class so I have to redirect their attention. For the adults, learning is a more solitary quest. Private and formal, even after months together, few know each others’ names.