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Thursday, April 14, 2011

Easing in and Easing Out, a Solution to improve the workforce.

I catch myself starting conversations with this phrase, a nostalgic nod to the profession I loved. "I used to be a teacher, a school administrator..." 

Nowadays, nobody asks me what I do, or did for a living. Nobody cares to know that.
Yet, that's who I am, always the teacher, observing and studying, then translating the results into bite=sized=pieces to be presented to someone, some group. I taught grades 6-14, upper elementary to junior college.  I'm an expert without a platform.

As seniors, we are judged by the clubs and volunteer activities we are involved in.  In our town, there are quilt groups, garden clubs, yoga and dancing groups, school tutors, reading groups, walking groups, bird watchers, trail blazers, environmentalists, council members, board members, canoers and kayakers, fisher people, surfers, painters, writers, jewelry makers, potters, metal-sculptors, gamblers and church members.

None of these activities require a degree or a certificate, or a recommendation. In some cases, you run for office and let the community know you want their support. Otherwise, come in, sit down, learn with everyone else. What you did in your previous life doesn't matter at all. Go on, join up, pay your dues and swing-to-maloo, or whatever tune the group moves to.

I miss not contributing to my field of studies. I miss young people, their energy, their needy situations that allowed me to help out. I miss solving problems, planning, collaborating to achieve a mutual goal. What I contribute in my elected position as a school board member is infinitesimally smaller than anything I ever did on a daily basis.

I should be happy not to have so many responsibilities.  Not at all!

All seniors I know, would rather be contributing members of society. Their health, their energy and attention span levels, however, are not what they used to be.  Part time employment, project that would take a few weeks, a few months, paced differently, these would be great ways to employ seniors.

Retirement for most people is a forced choice.

If you ask us, we'll tell you about our work, we'll show you.
But, we are not being asked.  All that we could pass on as mentors, all those resources are wasted away.


We need a smoother way to start working, and a smoother way to stop working. In our early years, we need time to learn incrementally, and apply few lessons at a time, with the help of a mentor until we can handle a full time load on our own. 

In our late years, we can mentor young people, help them see the elements in a work day that can be leveraged carefully to help all other elements work well.  Our time with youth would help us ease out of full time work, and would help the corporation utilize the skills we have for a few more years.

There should be a decade of easing in and one of easing out.
Work should be geared to our life needs; not, the other way around. 

36 comments:

Tabor said...

This is so true. We are a culture of black and white. There is no in-between which would certainly ease many problems. Younger workers with children might like a part-timer who can fill in once in a while. But too many legal and policy issues get in the way.

Patricia said...

This post resonates on many levels. I have always admired the Asian culture for their appreciation of their elder members and the ways built into the society to tap into that wisdom. Our retirement lives are busy and very satisfying BUT you are right about it not being easy to interact with young people...not so much children but the young adults. There is a loss of the energy that comes with that interaction and it is difficult to find natural venues. My one son, aged 45, always invites us to participate in their social events with their friends and their friends welcome us and that helps. I also have maintained connections with the young people who were on my staff when I was employed and that helps. But I have to make it happen.

Brian Miller said...

well your plan would certainly be ideal...we dont have enough jobs to support the next generation honestly...

Eva Gallant said...

I have to say I enjoy being out of the work force, but then my last three years working were very stressed and hectic. Having the time to write, blog, and do whatever I like (that doesn't cost money) has been a pleasure.

erin said...

so many truths here in this post, rosaria. it's like we live a disposable society, always next, next, would you like fries with that, a super sized coke, next! instead, we need a more fluid and organic way of living a - b. throughout life. throughout.

i object to the judgement with job title. i understand that so many people identify with their professions. that is choice on their behalf. but that there is judgement at all - this is symptomatic of the sick society we breed. we should embrace strength, weakness and diversity, no matter the package it comes in, regardless the age:)

much love rosaria
you're not old
you're vital
demand to be seen as such
show your spunk no matter where or how you go

xo
erin

rosaria said...

Thanks, Erin! I feel revitalized just reading your comment. I didn't think about the label/profession that trap you into one definition. But you are most right on this.

Tabor, yes, I definitely suffered as a mother and a worker. So much pressure, so little understanding.

Patricia, wouldn't take much for our society to adapt a few good things from other cultures, yes? But no, not happening on a big enough scale. As Erin mentioned, we are a disposable society.,

Brian, I was thinking an early internship for the youth as they begin to concentrate in their field of study. This would enhance their skills and identify their passion earlier.

Eva--I do love my free time now. But, what a waste of knowledge and skills.

NormalToEatPB said...

Transition can always be difficult when there isn't a plan for it. . .

Grandmother said...

You still want to teach, to use your knowledge and skills and be involved with younger folks so why not do that? It might mean finding a unique way to do that but how valuable for both sides. A mentor you already mentioned, teaching immigrants, volunteering at a school, private classes or tutoring in your speciality, English as a second language, teaching young prisoners (there's a 13- 18 yr. old age group). It does seem like a waste if you want to do something for which society has a need even if it doesn't have the smarts to use elders at this point.The club type activities are not meaningful for all. I wonder if you could interest other seniors...

Linda Myers said...

I still have the skills I had when I worked. I like not using some of them any more. The others I find a way to use.

Plus I'm learning new stuff. I'm not very good at construction working with Habitat for Humanity, but I can be the gofer at the site.

Ann Best said...

My sister-in-law (ex-wife of my recently deceased brother) is about to move in with us. She's one who has worked and worked under extremely stressful conditions but will leave without a pension; with only health insurance. She doesn't know what to do just staying at home, so she's hoping to get a part-time job. This is the thing: getting older, having something to do when the opportunities diminish. I'll never have this problem because I can write (always have) at home while taking care of my daughter. But I know so many people who have struggled when they've had to "retire" from a "job." But you're aware of the situation. I think that through blogging, you do "teach." I for one have learned a lot from following your posts, and your writing. And one can always be a mentor, to anyone.
Ann Carbine Best’s Long Journey Home

Joani said...

Your posts are very thought provoking. Yes, we do have a lot of knowledge and it's too bad that the younger folks will not be able to tap into those resources. I have not yet fully eased out of the work place but will in December. I'm hoping that something will come along that sparks my passion and that I will know it when it arrives. Until then, I'm still in the workforce. Thank you for all the good knowledge and I love reading your post and all the comments.

Marguerite said...

If you miss teaching, why not go back to work, at least part time. I just saw a story on the ABC evening news about a woman who is 97 years old, who is still teaching, in New Jersey! (you can see the story on their website) and why not join a dance class, just for fun, or a garden club, etc., to meet people with similar interests. And you could always publish your wonderful memoirs, which is a book that I would certainly buy! :)

Roberta said...

About ten years ago, I started taking jewelry classes. I took every class I could find. I thought it would be good to have something to create and possibly sell when I did finally retire. Well that time is here now. I get up every day and it is sheer joy to go into my studio and create. Each day growing into the next. At some point I hope to be able to sell some of my pieces. It is important to have something I think.

ellen abbott said...

I'm fortunate to have chosen a path where I cannot be fired or let go. being self employed I am the boss and as long as I can produce a product people want to buy, then I have work. been lots of down sides to that path as well, like not having the luxury of retirement. but since I'm doing what I want, what does it matter?

Journeyin' Lady... said...

I hope you can find your place in the exciting and fun time of our lives called retirement.
I loved my career as an Telecommunications Engineer but also love the opportunity to try new and interesting things, sometimes for a salary but more often just because! For fun I took a part time job in a cooking school (not because I love cooking), worked for four investment bankers (don't care about managing money), did proof-reading on educational materials (was never a school teacher,) did work for United Way (do love to think I can make a small difference.) I view retirement as a time to expose myself to new adventures without the obligation of working for a salary or toward a pension income. I believe my education and work experience contribute to whatever I undertake next in my life. I'm loving it!

Arkansas Patti said...

Now that you mention it, you are right. No one seems to care what we were, only what we are. Since I am thrilled with retirement, I rather like the level playing field.
However, you still wish to contribute so I think you should.
Several commenters before me have had good ideas.

Retired English Teacher said...

I fully agree with you. I've always said that we are wasting our best resources in education by retiring our master teachers. The system is not using the mentoring skills that these retirees have. Young teachers are losing out on having someone come along beside them to help them ease into the classroom.

I am teaching international students at the University near me this semester. The job is a blessing. I work four hours a day. In many ways, this arrangement is perfect. I do wish I didn't work Monday through Friday, but you can't have everything.

yaya said...

I have friends who are teachers who have retired after 30yrs...in their early fifties...and they are thrilled to be done with it. Even the younger teachers I know seem anxious to get done with teaching. It does seem such a waste to get the education and experience and then you're done. I feel like I'm in my prime as far as my knowledge in my field goes. But the younger nurses don't care about "how it was done years ago"...I'm sure they would be happy to have us "old geezers" retire! I'll probably be here until I'm 100... (just to tick them off!)

#1Nana said...

I have those same conflicting thoughts. I substituted today and that seems to satisfy my need to teach. The kids commented about their teacher that he was old, "He's 41!" they said, as if that was ancient. One student asked me how old I was, and the rest of the class sat stunned that he had asked. I told them I was 60 and one kid replied "That's older than my Grandpa." Yeah, I'm so old that i don't think I'll work tomorrow.

Dr. Kathy McCoy said...

Your post resonates with so many, Rosaria. There should be a middle path of part-time employment opportunities in one's field to allow one to keep contributing and ease the retirement shock. In my case, my first profession was writing. In midlife, I went back to school to get degrees in psychology and become a psychotherapist to increase my knowledge and credentials as a writer and to have an alternate gig during lean times. My last 20 years of work, I worked one full time and two part-time jobs and the last five years, my full-time job was an IT job I did for the money and benefits. My boss called it "my retirement job" though it was more stressful than anything else because I disliked it. Last year, I was very happy to retire from that job. I was ready to retire from my part-time college admissions job and my private psychotherapy practice (though I sometimes miss the latter.) My reward in retirement was to go back to my original profession and passion -- writing -- without the financial pressures I always felt before. So my path in retirement has been a bit happier than most, though at times, I feel I'm starting all over again. This really is a society that tends to discard the older, experienced people -- and squanders so much talent and knowledge.

LindyLouMac in Italy said...

Are there not voluntary work schemes at schools that you can get involved in, such as helping overloaded teachers listening to reading. Just a thought, thanks also for the cherry blossom comment.

becky said...

In my business, the kids can't wait for the experienced ones to move on so they can do things "their way!" They don't care to be mentored, think they'll invent their own methods toward pleasing their magazine audiences.

However, the young and the restless are getting shuttled around and laid off these days...the struggle they have now is to find A job, ANY job.

I'm glad to be out of the corporate structure and working (or not)on a freelance basis (self-employed). I tried passing along my knowledge but it fell on deaf ears and I disappeared into the landscape. I can dig it. Dust to dust. Ashes to ashes.

Dani said...

Do you belong to the Story Circle Network - it's a great memoir group started by novelist, Susan Wittig Albert.

Another crazy A-Z Challenge Fool

Blog Book Tours

Helen said...

I'm out the door now, will be back later to comment on your post ... for now, thank you for the concern regarding my little maladies .. there is no getting better - these will be with me until there is no me. The Raynaud's began when I was in my 30s .. the Dupuytren's about five or six years ago.

Matthew Vanacore said...

Nice read and it all sounds so very true. I've no experience with retirement, but your piece was so honest and shrewd that I feel I've learned something today. I wish you the best of luck through your life journey. It sounds like you were one heck of a teacher. I'm sure you are missed by your students.

Trish said...

Insightful post. As always, your suggestions are excellent. Part of the challenge, though, is simply the times in which we live. So much available information, 24/7, so many social networking sites. People don't have time - or make the time - to talk to each other anymore, at least not in the ways that might make a difference.

Donna said...

The older I get, I suddenly understand that with age is wisdom! That wisdom comes from the experiences we have had in life and those were mostly from family and jobs. I should be a blessing to hear from those who have knowledge base from something valuable like this.
Nice picture, too Rosaria!!

Ruth said...

One of my pet peeves is that we "lose" people at the peak of their expertise when they retire. Not that people shouldn't retire. But what is available in the mind and experience of retirees just blows me away. I am glad I've been in my job more than 10 years now, because the longevity is offering me so much to draw from in knowledge.

Seriously, surfing. How cool is that!

Granny Annie said...

Wow my friend,you really stirred the pot with this one. I was so proud of my career, my education, my success of climbing the ladder in a man's world of banking. But, I cannot wear a band on my arm that says "I was once a part of the corporate world and very successful not only in the work place, but as a single parent." People look at me in my casual clothes with my wigged head, surrounded by my chickens and goats, and believe I have nothing to contribute to society.

ficwriter said...

Thanks for leaving a comment on my post for Jane Friedman's blog on "Writing a Life." I've been watching my mother go through the things you talk about on your blog since she retired fifteen years ago.

I'll never forget taking her to the doctor and on the way home, she said. "I'm never going to him again." I was stunned. She and the doc had been friends for decades, they were the same age.

Then she told me why: "He didn't look at me when he asked a question. He looked at YOU for my answers. It's like I wasn't there.

So I found her a new doctor, a young one who looks her in the eye and looks to her, not me, for the answers. I learned then that if a doctor or salesclerk doesn't treat my mother with the respect she deserves, I'll keep shopping until I find one who does.

It's wonderful to meet you, too, btw. Thank you for continuing to teach through your blog.

Darrelyn Saloom

rosaria said...

Wow! You all blew me away with your stories and insights!
Thanks for your visit here.

Please, at this juncture in our political discourse, we need to be active and vocal about the needs of our seniors, including their health care and their mental status. Abandoning one group in society hurts everyone else.

Bee's Blog said...

This is indeed a post showing the reality that can come for women of a certain age. I am fortunate that over sixty, I am still able to work and am working in a job which I love but one which does not come without its stresses.

Your post and some of the comments here reminded me of 'The Invisible Woman' which I posted some weeks ago.

Today's men and women in their sixties are not like those of the same age long ago - and even, not so long ago. We have a great deal to offer, have the energy and the vibrancy to stay in the workplace and for the most part have a far better work ethic than many of our younger counterparts.

Refuse to be thrown on the scrap heap - I did!

I came here through Everyday Goddess and I'm so pleased I did. Congratulations on her award. A great read.

Granny Annie said...

I gave you a "shout out" on my blog post yesterday. Hope that was okay. You really got a big response to this one didn't you?

kenju said...

Granny Annie sent me here and I am glad. I am fortunate enough to still be working part-time (age 70 1/2) and loving every minute of it. I would curl up and die if I didn't have this work to look forward to, although I am involved with a very good neighborhood group and a book club. We all need something to make us feel useful as we age. Blogging helps too!

Ann Niddrie Photographer said...

Wow. I just stumbled on to your blog for the first time and I am blown away by this post. My grandmother is not very open and I often wonder how she is REALLY feeling, and I suspect she might be missing the young energy. And being productive and needed.

Vagabonde said...

This is an interesting post and all the comments show that your readers enjoyed it. I have heard about several cities where they have organizations for retired people and they send them to help wherever there is a need. I think Asheville, NC is one of those cities - but they are rare. I also think that in this country only the young generations have clout, that as soon as you say “retired” you might as well have said “a has been and a recluse.” I have also seen some trends for retired people to moving back to main towns instead of retirement communities so they can be more active within all age groups, not seniors only. Now with so many baby boomers retiring I think that there will be more opportunities for seniors.