‘CHRONOLOGICAL ENHANCEMENT Age Confronts Older Teachers

Column written for and published in the ‘Suns’ Newspaper (NT) on November 1 2016.

AGE DOES WEARY THEM

“Age” is an issue that confronts everyone who is employed. With changes to the Old Age Pension and superannuation access, there will be significant alteration to the working life of all employees. Those changes are inclusive of teachers and school staff.

Those born after January 1, 1957 will not reach pensionable age until they turn 67. It is highly likely that in time, legislation will be introduced into the Australian Parliament that lifts the retirement age for pension and superannuation purposes to 70.

While people working in outdoor situations will feel the vagaries of climate, actual and proposed change will affect teachers and those working in our schools.

Young teachers are vibrant and physically able to “bounce back” after each classroom day. What they lack in experience is made up for in terms of resilience. As teachers mature in years and gain experience, their ability to teach and manage students in classrooms reaches an optimal point. However as teachers age, reaching their mid 50s and beyond, resilience tends to reduce. Physical tiredness and mental fatigue can impact in a more significant way than for younger teachers.

The challenge of teaching is becoming more pronounced with each passing year. The chief issue is that of classroom management and control of student behaviours. It seems that conduct “permissiveness” is almost a behavioural norm. Control of children is becoming more and more challenging. Conduct once not accepted is being condoned. That is exacerbated by the fact that blame for misbehaviour is often laid on teachers. Educators talk about having to spend more and more time with control and management of classes, reducing the amount of time available for teaching.

Another educational change is that many teachers are being employed on short term contracts. This may mean that it becomes harder for “aged” teachers to be guaranteed occupational continuation because contracts are for finite periods. I’d forecast that stress related sick leave may become increasingly common for ageing teachers because of teaching demands and occupational uncertainty. Others without accumulated leave will struggle on because they need income for living and mortgage commitments.

The requirement that people stay at work for longer will impact upon everyone. That includes teachers, school leaders and support staff.The futurist picture is not a happy one. Exemptions from the new “age” requirement may be allowed for those in some occupational areas. Teaching is one of the occupations for which that exemption should be available.

 

Note: I have written a weekly column for the Suns Newpapers since July 2013.

My column is titled ‘Gray Matters’ and takes a weekly focus on a current (sometimes historical) educational issue.

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