Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Seven Ages of Teaching

You all remember the speech from As You Like It — "all the world's a stage ...And one man in his time plays many parts/His acts being seven ages"?

Paula Marantz Cohen has identified the corresponding Seven Ages of Teaching (below the fold). Which age are you? (I fear I have an age-identity disorder, finding elements of myself in the second, third, fourth, and fifth ages)
The first age. Writhing and puking are good metaphors for what infant teachers appear to do. Their successes are often serendipitous, their mistakes unsightly, if not egregious. They have not yet developed a coherent style in the classroom or a full grasp of their subject-matter. 
The second age. These schoolboy teachers are new to the profession but not so new as to find things as exciting as they once did. They may have just gotten tenure and can easily fall into the dullness of routine, “creeping unwillingly to school.” 
The third age. A more mature teacher, but one still seeking juvenile satisfactions in the classroom. Teachers in this age may engage in Internet correspondences with students that go on too long, beers after class, and, at the worst, infatuations that result in broken marriages and sexual harassment suits. 
The fourth age. This is the careerist teacher for whom teaching is a mere way station to getting ahead—which is to say, doing the conference circuit, making it onto the administrative track, and getting out of the classroom as much as possible. 
The fifth age. This magistrate teacher will pontificate in the classroom, under the assumption that students will hang on every word. Such teachers tend to be male, where pomposity seems to be a more natural appendage to middle age, but women are now entering this age too, as they gain more power and prestige in the profession. 
The sixth age. Teachers in this age no longer teach but hold onto their office space and make use of secretarial help for their correspondence with fellow sixth-age academics. Finally, of course, they succumb to full retirement—to work on their memoirs or their novel: The seventh age.


  1. This is obnoxious. Why are there no positive "ages"?

  2. May be obnoxious, but funny. And OMG, it is accurate for many a poor professor.


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