This week I went in search of a vest. Yes, a vest!
You know, the three piece suit afterthought and staple clothing article for accountants.
Tired of polyester dress pants and ties, I went looking for a way to take something casual and comfortable into the realm of professional and polished. When I announced this to my fashion forward wife this is what she said...
“Honey, I'm not sure you're the type of guy that can pull off a vest."
Listen, I am a Gen X'er and am WIDELY seen (at least by me) as incredibly hip and cool. Sure, I'm not living in my parents basement, growing an artisanal beard, and drinking craft beer, but I am still hip, aren't I?
According to the students at last night’s workshop, the answer is a resounding, “NO!"
As educators, we live in a world dominated by a younger generation for whom classical wind band music is about as relevant to their lives as Engelbert Humperdinck. Our world is different than their world, and I believe that’s the point and any attempt to blend the two is likely to leave us both tragically embarrassed.
Kids don't want their teachers to be like them. And frankly, I don’t want to be like a teenager. Been there, done that, and it wasn’t that great. Sure, I lack the elasticity and energy I once had, but gone too is the angst that Jill Cederlof will laugh at me when I ask her to Prom and the wonderment of how I am to fill my tank of gas with my last forty-three cents. I like being an adult, just like they like being teenagers, so I am all in favor of letting the young people be young and I will handle the old part. They can have their Drake and Chance the Rapper; I will keep my Journey and Rush!
Teenage people don't want adults to participate in, or even understand, their world. That's what makes it their own. When adults try to fit in like me buying a vest, we actually become LESS relevant because we are not providing them with anything they don’t already have. Young people are surrounded with an abundance of youth and cool, so in order to become more relevant, we have to provide them with something that’s a scarcity to their lives: wisdom and experience.
Teenagers know what they want, but have no clue what they need. They can take care of their wants, and we should be concerned with their needs. They can be teens, and we will be the adults. And the two need not meet in the middle.
But I’m still gonna wear my vest!
p.s. The picture above is the actual vest I bought. And yes, I look that good wearing it!