Blog, Journalism, Teaching

I’m Young, Not Dumb

 As a college instructor, I’m relatively young compared to my peers. I don’t have 20+ years experience teaching nor have I been in the journalism field that long. However, just because I’m young, it does not mean that I’m dumb.

 Academia can be an intimidating environment for newcomers. Ironically, in an industry that is supposed to foster fresh, new learning opportunities, the practices at some colleges and universities often discourage any type of change. The ideology of “that’s not how we do it” stops innovation in its tracks and stalls progress for both faculty and students.

 Over the past few years, I’ve been fortunate to have many colleagues who are innovators (both young and not-so-young) and who are willing to take risks. I’ve also worked with colleagues who were so terrified of the “younger, inexperienced” instructors that they went to extremes to criticize, chastise, and even manipulate the forward-moving efforts of others.

 Every argument against new practices revolves around fear – fear of change, fear of inadequacy, and the fear of losing 20+ years of something that “worked.”

 As a younger faculty member, I can assure those in fear that I’m not here to take your job, I’m not here to make you look bad, nor am I here to mess up the academic universe. I’m here to make an impact on the lives of my students. I’m here to share my knowledge with others, and I’m here to learn from you and adapt this knowledge to fit my style of teaching.

 Even though I’m young, I’ve worked hard to ensure that I continue learning, that I stay on top of practices in my industry, and that I grow each semester as much as my students hopefully do. I’m not afraid to try something new in the classroom or the student newsroom. I’m not afraid to learn alongside my students. I’m also not afraid to admit when a trial turns into an error.

 I am not an expert, but I am not a novice. I may not have decades of experience, but I have the energy, drive, and passion to accomplish big things now and in future decades.

 I’m not dumb just because I’m young. Someday, hopefully others will judge me based on what I’ve accomplished rather than the date on my birth certificate. I just hope that day does not take 20 years to get here.


– Shannon Philpott
Blog Entry: Dec. 4, 2009

 © Shannon Philpott, 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Shannon Philpott and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


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