Monday, February 05, 2007

Communicating across generations

As last evening’s Anderson Hall dinner (two kinds of pasta with beef sauce, vegetarian mushroom sauce and Alfredo sauce with clams), our guests included a features reporter and photographer from the Associated Press. They are writing a story on faculty members living in residence halls. We have been told that it may appear in as many as many as 150 newspapers.

The reporter, who had not too long ago completed his own ‘in residence’ experience as an undergraduate, posed thoughtful questions, as well as the usual ones about noise and fire alarm evacuations. I was reflecting on one as I finished cleaning up the remains of dinner for moiré than thirty, this morning: “isn’t it difficult to communicate across two generations?; How do you do it.?"

This has come more-or-less naturally to me. When I asked my own children – now the age of Anderson students’ parents, they told me living in would pose no problems. It would be fun for the students and for me. For many years, I have related to them (my children) as peers. Genuine peer relationships are what I strive for in Anderson. This requires of course, that students be true to themselves and that I be true to myself. Easy to say, but not so easy to do. Seeking to bridge the gap by pretending I was nineteen, rather than nearly sixty-nine would be greeted with derision (not to my faceof course) as it should be.

The answer to communication across generations may lie in advice given to me by my counselor when I was seeking help re-energizing a barren and troubled primary relationship.

“The secret of successful relationships,” she said, "is no expectations.”


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