Reverse Mentors: you can teach an old dog new tricks

photo-7Knowledge has traditionally been passed down from more experienced (older) people to younger ones. Often this comes across as the older generation being quite smug and functioning as knowledge-keepers.

However, with the spread of the Internet and access to any fact or figure you want at the click of a mouse or keyboard, knowledge isn’t necessarily what it used to be.

So what, if anything, can the generations learn from each other? Can the younger generation teach older people some new tricks?

RomCF001475I have friends from every decade in life. Some of my closest friends are a decade or two older than I, or decades younger.

A couple of weeks ago I went on a date to Smiggle* with an eight year-old. The next day I had lunch with a thirty-five year-old, and at night went to a concert performed by a band in their twenties. I thoroughly enjoyed each experience and came home inspired in different ways.

Growing up in a world without computers, mobile phones, iPhones and iPads has meant that I’ve grown up without an intuitive approach to technology.

Whilst I’ve adapted, and have been a keen adopter of technology, I still find it difficult to navigate the world of social media, marketing, app technology and eBooks. These are things I need to interact with as a writer and member of society in the twenty first century.

That’s why it’s great to have so many people in my world I call 
Reverse Mentors.  I have many younger people who advise me and help me in my writing and technological needs.

I write young adult fiction and writing for this age group, when I am much older than them, can be challenging. There’s so much I can learn from younger people in my life.

I work with young graphic designers, web designers and social media experts, —creative types of all varieties—depending on the project I’m involved in.

I continue to find friends in younger, and older, age groups and find I learn so much more than I teach. As a high school teacher in a past life, I learnt that

teaching is a two-way transaction. Teachers teach and learn. Students teach and learn.

Looking at life through different perspectives is what keeps us fresh. As long as we understand and respect differences, communicate with others with a different lens and leverage the strengths in diversity, we will all get along fine. Learn from people from all generations is fun.

*Smiggle is an Australian-based retail chain that sells stationery and related accessories.

About Elaine Fraser

Elaine realised she wanted to be a writer at ten years of age when the words flew off the page during a creative writing lesson. She studied English and Education at university and went on to spend many years as a high school English teacher teaching others how to write. In 2005, Elaine took the plunge and began writing full-time. Since then she has published five books and blogs at Elaine’s passion is to write about real issues with a spiritual edge. When she’s not travelling the world in search of quirky bookstores or attending writing retreats in exotic locations, she can be found in the Perth hills sitting in her library—writing, reading, mentoring writers and hugging her golden retriever.