Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Elders and Wisdom
"The same technological progress that enables our society to keep an ever-larger percentage of old folks’ bodies going has simultaneously reduced the value of the minds within those bodies." -Philip Greenspun’s Weblog
As the demand for a technological driven society increases, those of us that are not brought up to instantly embrace all aspects of this shift are quickly left behind. No group is more overlooked than elders. Skills such as the ability to "help orienting a rooftop television aerial, changing the vacuum tubes in your TV, Dialing up AOL, Using MS-DOS, changing the ribbon on an IBM Selectric (height of 1961 technology), tuning up a car that lacks electronic engine controls, doing your taxes without considering the Alternative Minimum Tax and the tens of thousands of pages of rules" ( - October 29, 2009) are great to have (how many of us actually have these skills?!). However, has any of us (okay some but not many) ever stop to think why we have developed these skills? No, not for the ease of use for whatever but, really, why? What is the ultimate purpose?
Should these skills be valued over the conventional knowledge known as "wisdom"?
The way I see it, regardless of your opinion on the technological shift of in our society, it would be more beneficial to include the wisdom of our elders. It is more costly both economically and socially more desirable to take into consideration 60+ years of experience. All that knowledge would go to waste if we fail to include elders into the decision making, process, outcome, evaluation, and so on within our own organizations.
As 2010 is approaching, I am hoping we can all reflecting the role of elders play in our lives. And remember, just because it is not immediately observable, do not mean it is not impacting us in some way.