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Are you too old to learn the new technology?


When I started teaching computer graphics, in the 1990s, I was surprised at the number of people who said that were too old to learn it. Many of them were younger than me, but something had happened to them, and they were too old. At least they thought they were. Of course I had just learned the latest version of the software, so if age were a limiting factor, I'd be out of a job.

A good friend of mine calls this "dropping anchor". It's where we decide we know enough about a particular subject, and we stop there. And so when someone says that they're too old to learn the new technology, I know that they are simply telling me that they have chosen to "drop anchor" where they're comfortable.

If you've "dropped anchor" on new technology, I am so sorry for you, but I understand. Learning any new technology can be frustrating, and embarrassing. It's true of anything we learn. And while many people will say, "I'm too old to learn that stuff", what they're saying is that it's too much work, and it makes them feel stupid.

As a teacher, there was nothing I could do if people felt stupid around the new technology. I did a lot of smiling, demonstrating, and encouraging, but if people had "dropped anchor", it was just all going to irritate them. I had to wait. And very often I was rewarded, and people decided that they weren't too old.

I like to compare any new technology to the technology of our ancestors. I enjoy learning about history, so I wonder what it would have been like to have seen automobiles being invented. Going further back in time, I wonder what it would have been like to have been the first person to ride a horse, to use the wheel. I'd like to believe that I would have been enthusiastic about those things, even if I had grey hair at that time.

There are so many reasons not to do things, and I will accept them all. You can simply say, "because I don't want to". As a teacher, if you came to my class I was hopeful that if you saw how cool this stuff was, and how other people were enjoying using it, you would jump in. But sometimes I saw people just go off into a corner, or drop from the class. It wasn't for them.