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Author Topic: "Are you still teaching?"  (Read 12624 times)

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Stricken_Halo

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"Are you still teaching?"
« on: December 20, 2014, 05:32:09 AM »
I've been teaching long enough and I'm old enough (I turn 60 next year) to get this question quite a bit. Maybe I'm being irrational or over-sensitive, but I find it depressing. What I always hear is "You're so OOOOLD!" or "Your life is in a rut." I respond, "Yes, I'm still teaching. Whenever people ask me that, I always think, 'Am I that old?'" Is there a better way to reply? What I want is a non-rude way of letting people know I don't appreciate the question. I get that there are those who retire in their 50's, and I can understand wanting to do it if one has had a rough time of it, never liked it much, ready to do something else, or some combo of these. But I'm fortunate enough to be in an excellent school and I'm far from burned out. I also realize that people will sometimes ask the first thing that pops into their heads without considering that the person asked may be sick of the question. It still brings me down, though. Suggestions?

Sharnita

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Re: "Are you still teaching?"
« Reply #1 on: December 20, 2014, 06:54:05 AM »
I don't know where you are but here funding is changing, schools are closing,  teachers with 10, 15, or 20 years of experience can't be certain of job security.  A lot of people might ask teachers that simply because the profession hasbbecome uncertain, with ever increasing demands, and a payscale that seems to be going backwards while the cost of continuing education skyrockets.

poundcake

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Re: "Are you still teaching?"
« Reply #2 on: December 20, 2014, 06:59:46 AM »
You're very fortunate that you're in a good place and not burned out. Most of my teacher friends, even the ones who love it, end up moving into different jobs or switching schools multiple times, and more often than not, within 6-8 years, they're out of teaching completely.

Now, people generally seem to be shifting careers several times in their lives. So I don't think a comment like "You're still teaching?" indicates you're old or in a rut, just an acknowledgement that you might not still be teaching, or, like Sharnita said, might have taken an early retirement for any number of reasons. I think your own comment about "I'm fortunate enough to be in an excellent school and I'm far from burned out" would be a perfectly fine response to the question. It's actually really wonderful to hear that not all teachers are being absolutely drained by the system!

Octavia

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Re: "Are you still teaching?"
« Reply #3 on: December 20, 2014, 08:52:31 AM »
I've been teaching long enough and I'm old enough (I turn 60 next year) to get this question quite a bit. Maybe I'm being irrational or over-sensitive, but I find it depressing. What I always hear is "You're so OOOOLD!" or "Your life is in a rut."
"Thank you for concern. I'll give it the consideration it deserves." Said without emotion. Walk away.

"Did you just say that out loud?" Said with a hurt look on your face.

"What did you mean by that?" Watch them back peddle.

And I'd be looking for different people to hang out with this holiday season. Life is too short to waste it in the company of such judgmental people.
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acicularis

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Re: "Are you still teaching?"
« Reply #4 on: December 20, 2014, 09:18:02 AM »
Oh dear. Threads like this make me afraid to even try to make small talk anymore. It would never occur to me that "Are you still teaching?" might be a sensitive topic best avoided. Because I certainly wouldn't mean to imply anything about how old someone is, or that they're in a rut. Honestly, I would have thought it to be a fairly innocent attempt to show an interest in someone's life.

As far as how to answer it, all I can suggest is to smile and say that yes, you're still teaching, and really enjoying it quite a bit. Then ask them about their life.

How to discourage such a question? I have no idea (although if it makes you feel any better, I will probably steer clear of it in the future, now that I realize it's a such a loaded question).

darling

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Re: "Are you still teaching?"
« Reply #5 on: December 20, 2014, 09:25:51 AM »
I don't really see this as a rude question, more as making conversation. I get asked, "Are you still at Big Uni?" every single time I see certain relatives or acquaintances I don't see very often. It's Conversation. I've worked there over 15 years, and it's not likely to change anytime soon.

Since it annoys you, however, I would answer confidently, "Absolutely!", and move on to the bean dip if you don't want to continue that part of the conversation. Otherwise, tell them why you still love your work. Some people just don't get that it is possible to actually love what you are doing.

Surianne

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Re: "Are you still teaching?"
« Reply #6 on: December 20, 2014, 09:30:46 AM »
This seems like a perfectly normal question to me, as acicularis notes.  I hear these questions all the time in normal, polite conversation -- "Are you still working at X?"  "Do you still volunteer at Y?"  "Do you still like to knit?"  There's zero insult involved and it has absolutely nothing to do with age.

I've been teaching long enough and I'm old enough (I turn 60 next year) to get this question quite a bit. Maybe I'm being irrational or over-sensitive, but I find it depressing. What I always hear is "You're so OOOOLD!" or "Your life is in a rut."
"Thank you for concern. I'll give it the consideration it deserves." Said without emotion. Walk away.

"Did you just say that out loud?" Said with a hurt look on your face.

"What did you mean by that?" Watch them back peddle.

And I'd be looking for different people to hang out with this holiday season. Life is too short to waste it in the company of such judgmental people.

These responses, to me, would be bizarre and rude.  If I were the one who ask the question, I'd be confused and hurt and have no idea what just happened.  Of course, I'd make a point of never approaching you again, so perhaps your goal would be accomplished!

Deetee

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Re: "Are you still teaching?"
« Reply #7 on: December 20, 2014, 09:36:34 AM »
I've been teaching long enough and I'm old enough (I turn 60 next year) to get this question quite a bit. Maybe I'm being irrational or over-sensitive, but I find it depressing. What I always hear is "You're so OOOOLD!" or "Your life is in a rut."
"Thank you for concern. I'll give it the consideration it deserves." Said without emotion. Walk away.

"Did you just say that out loud?" Said with a hurt look on your face.

"What did you mean by that?" Watch them back peddle.

And I'd be looking for different people to hang out with this holiday season. Life is too short to waste it in the company of such judgmental people.

From my reading of the OP, no one is saying those things. People are asking "Are you still teaching?" and she thinks the sub is "you are in a rut"
Op, I think the is just fine. It's more like "What are you up to? But they that you were teaching. Is be hard pressed to find insult in that question.

wildkitty

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Re: "Are you still teaching?"
« Reply #8 on: December 20, 2014, 09:39:21 AM »
Hey, please don't think of it as an ageist question. Think of it as people are just weird and can't always come up with better conversation topics. I am 40, but throughout my career as a software engineer I've continually been asked if I still "play with computers". When I started my career at a well known mega-store (not Walmart), I was always asked if my job was to program the prices into the cash registers. I was horrified! Did these people really think I spent 4 years of blood, sweat, and tears obtaining my Computer Science degree just to do simple data entry?! Really though it was just the average person's lack of understanding of what I do and a way of making conversation.

Lula

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Re: "Are you still teaching?"
« Reply #9 on: December 20, 2014, 09:44:46 AM »
I've been teaching long enough and I'm old enough (I turn 60 next year) to get this question quite a bit. Maybe I'm being irrational or over-sensitive, but I find it depressing. What I always hear is "You're so OOOOLD!" or "Your life is in a rut."
"Thank you for concern. I'll give it the consideration it deserves." Said without emotion. Walk away.

"Did you just say that out loud?" Said with a hurt look on your face.

"What did you mean by that?" Watch them back peddle.

And I'd be looking for different people to hang out with this holiday season. Life is too short to waste it in the company of such judgmental people.

These responses, to me, would be bizarre and rude.  If I were the one who ask the question, I'd be confused and hurt and have no idea what just happened.  Of course, I'd make a point of never approaching you again, so perhaps your goal would be accomplished!

I agree.  These would be appropriate responses to remarks like "you shouldn't still be teaching at your age" or "Wow, you must really be in a rut."  But to a perfectly normal, innocuous, conversation-making question like "are you still teaching?"  I'd get the impression OP was extremely bitter about her job and life.

cicero

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Re: "Are you still teaching?"
« Reply #10 on: December 20, 2014, 09:49:45 AM »
Oh dear. Threads like this make me afraid to even try to make small talk anymore. It would never occur to me that "Are you still teaching?" might be a sensitive topic best avoided. Because I certainly wouldn't mean to imply anything about how old someone is, or that they're in a rut. Honestly, I would have thought it to be a fairly innocent attempt to show an interest in someone's life.

As far as how to answer it, all I can suggest is to smile and say that yes, you're still teaching, and really enjoying it quite a bit. Then ask them about their life.

How to discourage such a question? I have no idea (although if it makes you feel any better, I will probably steer clear of it in the future, now that I realize it's a such a loaded question).
I agree. To me it's like asking my nieces and nephews ( whom i see once a year or two) what grade they're in now, or asking other niece that I see once in five years if she is still a vegetarian, or asking someone I don't see often iuf they are still working at such and such place. I'm not implying anything. But if niece is now in 12th grade, then the conversation will move to college and gap year plans, and if other niece is still vegetarian then that will affect our choice if restaurants etc.

I, personally am in awe of dedicated teachers like the OP. I know how hard it ius to teac

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Jobiska

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Re: "Are you still teaching?"
« Reply #11 on: December 20, 2014, 09:59:04 AM »
I think it's often meant to show "Hey, I remember something about you!  I'd like to increase that knowledge!"  It's nice when people actually were interested enough in you to begin with to be able to remember stuff from the previous meeting. 

TootsNYC

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Re: "Are you still teaching?"
« Reply #12 on: December 20, 2014, 10:06:28 AM »
I think you are reading waaay too much into that.

I worked at the same place for a while; people would ask me, "Are you still at Employer 1?" Because they knew they wouldn't have heard if I'd changed jobs.

Then I changed jobs. Within a year of the change, they started asking, "Are you still at Employer 2?" Because they couldn't remember how long it had been. And they knew they wouldn't have heard if I'd changed jobs. Or, they were afraid they'd heard and forgotten.

You are projecting your own emotions on this.

Also--
   -some people retire early
   -some people get fed up and go do something else
   -some people become ever more expert and then move up from the front lines to some sort of management/consulting/oversight role


Or, they may be thinking, "I would sure not be able to do that job this long! She's amazing."

I think it's really unfair of you, actually, to project those sorts of meanings on people.

lmyrs

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Re: "Are you still teaching?"
« Reply #13 on: December 20, 2014, 10:23:10 AM »
"Are you still..." is pretty standard conversation. I don't think people are implying what you think they are. I'm under 40 and have been with me current company less than 15 years and I get asked all the time if I'm still there. And I've been asked for years - basically since I started. It's normal.

And if I got Octavia's responses, you wouldn't have to worry about me again. Those are astonishingly rude answers to a perfectly polite question. Just because you're "hearing" rudeness, doesn't mean there is rudeness.

Perfect Circle

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Re: "Are you still teaching?"
« Reply #14 on: December 20, 2014, 10:28:27 AM »
"Are you still..." is pretty standard conversation. I don't think people are implying what you think they are. I'm under 40 and have been with me current company less than 15 years and I get asked all the time if I'm still there. And I've been asked for years - basically since I started. It's normal.

And if I got Octavia's responses, you wouldn't have to worry about me again. Those are astonishingly rude answers to a perfectly polite question. Just because you're "hearing" rudeness, doesn't mean there is rudeness.

I completely agree - this is just what people say in social conversations.
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