Ageism begins at school.
They categorize you and segregate you in “grades”
by age. They only let you interact with other people your own
age and with a few adults who are categorized as
“teachers” who cannot be your friends and who must
It makes you grow up thinking that it’s somehow unnatural
to interact with people who are of different ages than you are,
but what’s really unnatural is only interacting with
people your age.
School teaches you the strange dichotomy that on the one hand,
you’re not supposed to get to know any adults personally,
but on the other hand, you must obey them. That’s a
dangerous way to think. It puts you at risk of obeying
The school system leaves you unfamiliar with people who are not
your age. It leaves a gaping hole in your people skills.
You start to think that there’s something a little wrong
with people who are not your age. You fear the big kids who are
only slightly older. You look down on the little kids who are
only slightly younger. You misunderstand the function of adults
because you only see a few contrived examples.
When you proceed from grade school to high school and college,
you still end up interacting primarily with people your own
age. You get segregated into categories of “freshmen,
sophomores, juniors, and seniors” with
“professors” replacing the teachers. You might
start to question if some of the information they are trying to
teach you might be incorrect. However, you fear voicing those
questions because everyone tells you that you need to do well
on tests in order to make it through. You start to accept that
it’s more efficient to learn what they’re saying by
rote in order to do well on a test and then forget the
information later rather than really think about it and
question it when you first hear it. Because you start to resent
having to learn ideas that you can’t question, you start
to think that anyone older than you is a stupid person who
blindly holds onto bad ideas. You start to think that you
can’t communicate with people who are not your age
because they are too stupid to understand what you’re
Most of us blindly adopt the false meme that society is divided
into “generations” and that our particular
generation is the only one that knows what’s going on. In
reality, new people are generated randomly and continually,
resulting in a nearly continuous spectrum of ages throughout
If you graduate and become a teacher, you view students
similarly to how they view you but in the opposite direction.
You think that they are stupid and naïve. You feel that
it’s your duty to relay certain facts to them for their
own good. You don’t think they are smart enough to
question those facts, so you don’t entertain any
criticism. You think they should be grateful to you. You forget
that you once questioned those very facts yourself.
If two people of different ages do occasionally get into a
discussion, it quickly becomes frustrating for both. Each
thinks the other is too stupid to understand the correct
opinion, which is the opinion that each holds.
When you leave college and get a job, you find it hard to
relate to older and younger coworkers. Companies suffer in
productivity because of the poor communication skills between
employees of different ages caused by being segregated from one
another during their entire educations. People tend to hire or
recommend other people of their same age. Ageism in the
workplace is illegal, but people commit it all the time without
even realizing it, because they’ve been trained since
childhood to feel uncomfortable interacting with people of
People of all ages have value to impart to each other. If we
had a healthy society composed of healthy communities, everyone
would be interacting with everyone else all the time, looking
out for each other, giving advice, being friendly, voicing
opinions, offering alternative outlooks, arguing respectfully,
making jokes, and even teasing each other.
Young people need to know that older people can be other things
than authority figures. If a few well-meaning adults teased and
tricked little kids occasionally, the way a devilish but caring
uncle might do, it would help kids start to become more aware
of the intentions of others and to look out for themselves more
and not be so gullible. It would better prepare them against
the few adults who are actually dangerous out there. Young
people need to know that teachers are not the only older people
holding valuable knowledge. Sometimes young people need a dose
of common sense from the normal everyday older people all
around them who have already been through what they’re
going through and can help them with some practical
Older people need young people to remind them that they are
still flexible, still learning, still growing, and still
changing. They need to have their ideas questioned so they
don’t get stagnant. Old people are vitalized by
interacting with young people. It’s not sick. It’s
not parasitic. It’s natural. How unfortunate it is that
we are trained to think it’s unnatural. How unfortunate
it is that when we see people of different ages interacting,
our first impulse is to be suspicious.
We are taught to grow up disconnected from the larger part of
our potential community, and we suffer because of that loss.
Most of us never question the normalcy of avoiding interactions
with the majority of the other people around us simply because
our ages are different. Most people don’t even realize
how bizarre it is to live that way.
That kind of segregation by age is only a recent development.
It began during the time of the invention of clocks and
factories. It forced people to behave like machines in an
assembly line. Before that time, the young learned by helping
their parents and other nearby adults with daily activities.
They also learned higher skills by taking apprenticeships with
selected elders who had multiple apprentices of varying ages.
They would learn as much by watching the older apprentices as
by watching the master.
A school should not be modelled after a factory. People are not
mass-produced products. We are not supposed to be packaged in
segregated boxes of identical numbers of identical pieces. We
are not supposed to pop out of the tray at the same time like
batches of muffins.
We all learn at different paces and by different methods.
Curiosity is the strongest driver of learning, not
pre-scheduled force-feedings of one-size-fits-all sequences of
We need our culture to wake up and regain what it lost. We need
to change the education system to allow kids of different ages
to help each other with their studies. We need classrooms of
mixed ages. Young kids are very curious about what older kids
know, but they don’t get the chance to watch them and
learn from them. We need more than one teacher per class, so
kids can see adults interact and question each other instead of
thinking that each teacher is a monolithic authority.
We need to teach people that it’s reasonable to consider
and question ideas continually throughout life. We need to let
children know that teachers are not the only ones with wisdom
and knowledge. We need to start reintroducing our children to
the other adults around them so that they have a healthy
understanding of how different people act, what can be gained
from them, and how to tell when someone is trying to trick