♥ Nail Art Baby Boomer



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Why Baby Boomers are right about the Aussie property dream

More than half of Millennials and Gen Z-ers are pessimistic about their ability to own a property, even if they give up their smashed avo breakfasts. But Baby Boomers are still big believers in the great Aussie dream of the family ‘castle’, and experience eventually proves them right.

Those are the findings from more than a million survey responses collected by CommBank and published as the CommBank Connected Future Report.

The Builders (born pre-1945) and Baby Boomers generations were the most optimistic about the viability of the Australian property dream, with up to 58 per cent still believing it’s achievable.

“The Baby Boomers placed a high degree of importance on home ownership,” the report reads. “It was seen as an expression of success and security.”  

Are the older generations right to keep the Australian property dream alive? Or are they completely misguided about their children and grandchildren’s futures?

Claire Madden, a social media researcher who compiled the CommBank report, believes the Baby Boomers are right to be optimistic, based on their own experiences.

“They have responded to extraordinary change throughout their careers and lifetimes,” she says. “They’ve found a way to continue to achieve their dreams.”

The Australian property dream has certainly changed over time. Where many used to dream of a three-bedroom home with a nice backyard on a quarter-acre block, there’s now more emphasis on an architecturally-designed home.

This new dream may be one of the reasons the younger generations are less optimistic. A beautiful turn-key home will inevitably cost more upfront than a fixer-upper, and compromising on dreams is not an attractive prospect.

But despite the pessimism of younger generations, the age of the average first-home buyer has remained at 32 for about 20 years.

Gen Y (also referred to as Millennials) are people born between 1980 and 1994, while Gen Z-ers are born between 1995 to 2009. This means some of Gen Y and all of Gen Z have not yet reached the average age of first-home ownership.

“The lowest optimism is amongst the 25- to 29-year-olds,” Madden reveals. “In those early 30s – from 30 to 34 – there’s a significant jump up.”

It seems this difference comes from those that are entering the property market right on cue.

This optimism tends to increase with age, the survey discovered – possibly a nod to the fact that people are able to manage and even pay off their debt, as most Baby Boomers have found.

“There’s an incredible determination across the generations to see the property dream come to pass, even though there’s obstacles and new realities,” Madden says. “The average age shows there’s still hope.”

What do you think of this report? Did you ever feel like you wouldn’t be able to own a home?      


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UÑAS NUDE CON EFECTO HOMBRE O BABY BOOMER HOLOGRÁFICO / COLABORACIÓN



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Saving Habits: Baby Boomers Least Likely to Have Emergency Fund

As the economy turns around, Americans are saving more than they have in the last 7 years. Still, nearly a quarter of the population has no emergency savings, according to a Bankrate.com survey.

To be in a financially empowered, financial planners recommend people save 6 months worth of expenses in case of an emergency.

“Having emergency savings also allows you to take advantages of opportunities,” said Bankrate.com chief financial analyst Greg McBride. Savings help one take advantage of new job opportunities, celebratory events such as weddings, or personal investments. At the very least, having a 6 month safety net may bring peace of mind since 65% of Americans reported losing sleep over financial stress according to CreditCards.com.

Changing Attitudes

“Ever since the recession, consumer attitudes have changed towards saving,” McBride said. Thirty-one percent of Americans now have enough in savings to cover 6 months’ expenses or more reported Bankrate.com. That’s a 9% increase from 2015.

But just because the recession resulted in Americans being more conscious about their financial situation and more risk averse doesn’t mean they were able to start saving right away. It took a while for people to get back on their feet.

“Now that we are seeing more broad based growth in household income, we are seeing the needle move,” McBride said.

Americans feel more job security and reported higher net worth than a month ago according to Bankrate.com. Women reported the highest feelings of financial security in two years. McBride attributes this to an increased comfort with debt, meaning these women may have paid down debt, refinanced debt, or recently received a promotion.

So what’s the best way to start saving?

“Saving is all about habit,” McBride said. “Automate it. Prioritize it. You have to establish the habit.” Saving habits are best created while one is young, and McBride recommends people start saving from the moment they get their first paycheck. This might mean most of us are behind, but McBride said technology can help even those without years of saving experience get on the right track.

These days one can set up systems to automatically deposit a portion of the paycheck straight into a savings account. Certain apps round expenses to the nearest dollar, emptying out the extra change into the savings account.

“You need to make a conscious decision to save today,” McBride said. “There’s not a magic pill that can do that for you.”

The Break Down

Though they are approaching retirement, 32% of those aged 53 to 62 have no emergency savings, the highest among the different age groups. McBride said many of these baby boomers may have lost their savings in the economic downturn or faced long term unemployment. Those older than age 63 reported the lowest likelihood of empty savings and 44% of them have enough savings to cover at least 6 months worth of expenses according to Bankrate.com.

Contrary to popular belief, the youngest millennials aged 18 to 26 exhibited strong saving habits. Though many carry student loan debts, they are much less likely to rack up credit card debt or auto loans. They buy less things and this might be because they saw their parents and older siblings experience the recession, McBride said.

Those in the Midwest are most likely to be saving enough to cover 6 months’ living while those in the South are least likely, according to Bankrate.com. McBride said the Midwest held the advantage of lower unemployment compared to the South and lower costs of living in comparison to residents of the West Coast and Northeast.

Top 10 Job Strategies for Recent College Graduates

When the graduation celebrations have ended, many recent graduates must consider what they are going to do with their lives. When I started talking with my students and other graduates from other institutions, the clarity of what they were going to do after college life was murky at best. Surprisingly, the majority of the graduating seniors did not have any idea of what they were going to do.

Perhaps, it is generational because Millennials have a different outlook than Baby Boomers. In my last job strategy book, I along with my co-author, William Bailey, researched this problem and found a huge disconnect between what organizations desired from potential employees, and what today’s job seekers expect of employers. This article explores 10 new job strategies for recent college graduates in how to increase their success in employment.

THE ECONOMIC LANDSCAPE

The economic picture should give recent college graduates some hope. According to a recent National Association of Colleges and Employers, the top bachelor’s degree, which would be in the highest demand, was business administration and management. Of the 169 surveyed employers, 86 stated they intended to hire graduates with this degree.

In another college employment study by CareerBuilder.com, 74% of employers planned to hire more recent college graduates this year (up from 67% from 2016). Half of these employers planned to offer recent college graduates higher pay than last year; 39% of these surveyed employers would start recent graduates with $50,000 or more (compared to 27% in 2017).

The most sought after majors for these employers were: Business (30%), Engineering (26%), Computer and Information Sciences (23%), Engineering (16%), Communications Technologies (13%), Mathematics/Statistics (11%), Construction Trades (11%), and Health Professionals/Related Clinical Sciences (10%). With this positive job outlook, college graduates cannot afford to relax because of the continual changes in the job market.

NEW JOB STRATEGIES

Recent college graduates must enhance their job strategies. In today’s competitive environment, getting a job in one’s major is not easy. In fact, more experienced and older workers are now competing for entry-level jobs.

Companies are more demanding due to the surplus of seasoned and young talent before them. According to the Economic Policy Institute, one in eight colleges graduating class of 2016 were under-employed. Underemployed relates to those individuals in the college-educated workforce that are doing jobs that don’t require a college degree or not in their intended major.

With that said, those unemployed individuals would prefer to be working in their major full-time. In the Office of the New York City Comptroller’s 2016, the study found that, by 2014, Millennials were making about 20 percent less in real terms than what older generations made during their first years in the labor force. Thus, recent graduates cannot afford to misunderstand the job market.

Peter Cappelli, the author of Why Good People Can’t Get Jobs, notes that the impersonal nature of the current employment process: “Like a replacement part, job requirements have very precise specifications. Job candidates must fit them perfectly, or the job won’t be filled, and the business can’t operate.”

In a surplus market with numerous potential candidates, employees can be picky. When a list of prospective applicants does not meet the requirements, many times, these positions are left unfilled. Sadly, most job seekers have not figured this reality out. Yet, loaded with the right attitude and good job strategies, recent graduates can ensure themselves of better success in this job market. The following are the 2017 job strategies for more employability:

  1. Possess a good character that makes you an attractive person.
  2. Connect your ideal job with your interest, skills/abilities, and value/belief system.
  3. Build an effective personal brand, including an online personality connected to LinkedIn.com and critical online networks.
  4. Pursue additional education and certifications (i.e. Google digital marketing certifications) that separate you from the competition.
  5. Use daily positive self-affirmations about your skills and abilities to keep your energy level positive.
  6. Build an incredible professional network for identifying job opportunities.
  7. Learn how to seek out critical advice and mentorship, but develop the capacity to use it.
  8. Develop a questioning attitude about life to promote problem solving.
  9. Network with subject matter experts, industry leaders, and highly successful people to increase your job opportunities.
  10. Target desired positions and apply periodically (daily, weekly, etc.) so that you are actively engaged in new employment.

CONCLUSION

In today’s difficult economy, college graduates must be more assertive despite the positive forecast for employment. Getting a job isn’t easy. This article demonstrated how recent college graduates can increase their chances of being hired with 10 new job strategies. In fact, many Millennials will face future employers that have a variety of job options to fill a job vacancy.

Individuals who understand the new mindset of current employers will have a better chance of successfully navigating the employment landmines. Yet, a savvy job seeker understands these employment changes and makes the necessary corrections to make his/her personal brand attractive to potential employers. If individuals want to be more effective in their job hunt for 2017, they can use these job strategies to navigate future career challenges.

© 2017 by Daryl D. Green

Six baby boomers prove how you can explode myth of ageing

This is a year of big birthdays, for, believe it or not, 2017 is when the baby boomer turns 70.

Ever-youthful Joanna Lumley, Bill Clinton and Cher are 70 already and are now joined by a million new septuagenarians this year — more than ever before. To mark this, Channel 4 has a new four-part TV series called The Baby Boomers’ Guide To Growing Old. Its aim? To show just how young 70 really is.

The baby boomers have always been rule breakers. Born in peacetime, with the freedom to enjoy the Sixties’ summer of love, they’re now completely redefining ‘old age’. They may be doting grandparents, but they’re also going to music festivals, travelling the globe, wearing skinny jeans, remodelling their houses and feeling fitter and healthier than they’ve ever been.

Angela Neustatter, 73, is a writer and author of 13 books including The Year I Turn . . . A Quirky A-Z Of Ageing. She lives in London with Olly, her husband of 43 years, with whom she has two grown-up sons and two grandchildren

Angela Neustatter, 73, is a writer and author of 13 books including The Year I Turn . . . A Quirky A-Z Of Ageing. She lives in London with Olly, her husband of 43 years, with whom she has two grown-up sons and two grandchildren

Angela Neustatter, 73, is a writer and author of 13 books including The Year I Turn . . . A Quirky A-Z Of Ageing. She lives in London with Olly, her husband of 43 years, with whom she has two grown-up sons and two grandchildren

Statistics suggest life expectancy is rising by two-and-a-half years per decade — predictions are that, by the end of the 21st century, there will be 1.5 million centenarians in the UK. Which is why the Oxford Institute Of Population Ageing is insisting we change the language surrounding age. Forget ‘old’, those of us in our 70s and 80s should now be called ‘active adults’ instead.

Here six (very active) top writers reveal how they’re ripping up the rulebook . . .

I’M FITTER NOW THAN I WAS 20 YEARS AGO

Angela Neustatter, 73, is a writer and author of 13 books including The Year I Turn . . . A Quirky A-Z Of Ageing. She lives in London with Olly, her husband of 43 years, with whom she has two grown-up sons and two grandchildren.

In my youth I assumed my 70s would be a time of diminishing returns, yet so far — I am approaching 74 — I have found it a strikingly cheering time. I seem to belong to the group where ‘a growing happiness’ in elders has been charted by economists.

In my youth I assumed my 70s would be a time of diminishing returns, yet so far ¿ I am approaching 74 ¿ I have found it a strikingly cheering time. I seem to belong to the group where ¿a growing happiness¿ in elders has been charted by economists

In my youth I assumed my 70s would be a time of diminishing returns, yet so far ¿ I am approaching 74 ¿ I have found it a strikingly cheering time. I seem to belong to the group where ¿a growing happiness¿ in elders has been charted by economists

In my youth I assumed my 70s would be a time of diminishing returns, yet so far — I am approaching 74 — I have found it a strikingly cheering time. I seem to belong to the group where ‘a growing happiness’ in elders has been charted by economists

In my 50s there were so many ‘is this it?’ questions, and ‘can I still wear this?’ worries.

These days I wear what I like — black leather, a mini with a big sweater, leggings and T-shirts, clingy dresses. If anyone thinks I appear inappropriate, they can look the other way.

We baby boomers coincided with the invention of the teenager. We learned the fun of wearing kooky clothes, whereas my mother’s most rebellious garment was a yellow Horrocks frock with little black spots. Usually she wore sensible tweed skirts and cardies.

The Sixties Women’s Movement showed those of us who tuned into feminism that we had every right to assert ourselves. But these days we’re also grown-up enough to step back from conflict and emotional chaos when it comes our way.

I’ll say, ‘Sorry, I’m not playing’ if a partner or friend is determinedly argumentative. Much more peaceful.

Actress Jane Fonda at 43

Actress Jane Fonda at 43

Actress Jane Fonda at 43

My mother died of cancer when I was 25 and she was 50. I spent my midlife years imagining I would get a tumour at the age she died. When it didn’t happen I felt free to anticipate older age with equanimity and was able to put her memory to rest.

I pinch a good deal more than an inch around my midriff and dismiss it, tant pis; looking back on too many years of bingeing, starving, yearning, in pursuit of the Twiggy look.

Now I am happy to have good health — although there is pesky sciatica — and a body that, if anything, is more supple than 20 years back (yes, that is me doing the Jane Fonda pose) thanks to a decade of Pilates, yoga and a home with stairs.

Then there’s sex. Increasingly my generation has been given permission, with each new decade, to believe it can still have an erotic life.

So if the idea appeals — the challenge is to find times after an afteroon siesta perhaps or a morning lie-in — other than the night when I am about as erotic as a fried egg.

As much as anything, I celebrate my 70s for being a time when my ego is no longer on high alert, in case others are doing better at a career, being lovelier, funnier, cleverer than I am.

This is such a relief having lived much of my life with the fear of rejection and failure. I used to think 40 was the age when you signed off from a life of fun and frolics. But it’s not true — which seems a remarkable gift.

Author Lesley Pearse, 72, is single. She lives in Torquay and has three daughters and four grandchildren

Author Lesley Pearse, 72, is single. She lives in Torquay and has three daughters and four grandchildren

Author Lesley Pearse, 72, is single. She lives in Torquay and has three daughters and four grandchildren

TAKE THE PLUNGE WITH SCUBA DIVING

Author Lesley Pearse, 72, is single. She lives in Torquay and has three daughters and four grandchildren.

I did approach my 70th birthday with trepidation but, two years on, I found it means nothing if you have a young outlook and laugh a lot. Laughing is far sexier than crying.

I keep fit by scrambling up my Devonshire cliff-top garden to weed and plant. I have to come down on my bottom, but it’s safer that way. I go to Pilates to keep bendy, and I swim and walk the dog.

I will not buy ‘old lady’ clothes or shoes — they’re a dead giveaway. So maybe I can’t wear 4in stilettos any longer, but I will never be seen in trainers. Wellies yes, but always in a bright colour, recently orange to match my raincoat.

I’m thinking of doing a scuba diving course. I’ve always wanted to do it and I’m close enough to the sea to pour myself into a wet suit in the privacy of my home.

At heart I’m still the hippy chick I was back in 1968. I love parties, I throw a big one every year, always with live music. You don’t have to take up bungee jumping or white-water rafting to prove you’re still young at heart.

Dance with a big smile on your face, talk to strangers on a dog walk, drink younger people under the table but remember to hang up your clothes and take your make-up off before bed. I’m always the first one up the next morning. Anyone for a bacon sarnie and a dip in the sea?

The Woman In The Wood by Lesley Pearse (Michael Joseph, £18.99) is out June 29.

Journalist and broadcaster Esther Rantzen, 76, presented That¿s Life! for 21 years. She was made a Dame in 2015. Husband Desmond Wilcox died in 2000. She has three grown-up children

Journalist and broadcaster Esther Rantzen, 76, presented That¿s Life! for 21 years. She was made a Dame in 2015. Husband Desmond Wilcox died in 2000. She has three grown-up children

Journalist and broadcaster Esther Rantzen, 76, presented That’s Life! for 21 years. She was made a Dame in 2015. Husband Desmond Wilcox died in 2000. She has three grown-up children

BRAVING A SPEED-DATING DANCE CLASS

Journalist and broadcaster Esther Rantzen, 76, presented That’s Life! for 21 years. She was made a Dame in 2015 for services to children and older people through the helplines ChildLine and The Silver Line. Husband Desmond Wilcox died in 2000. She has three grown-up children and one grandson.

Some people have always grown old disgracefully, thank goodness. Think Mae West, flaunting false eyelashes and toy boys. I remember seeing Marlene Dietrich on stage well into her 70s, still in her famous ‘nude dress’ and strategically placed sequins.

Of course, showbusiness has always encouraged rebels. The difference today is that normal people with ordinary lives follow their example.

Look at the internet dating sites — they’re filled with suggestions for baby boomers who are seeking romance. Clearly, plenty of wrinklies are happy to plunge into new relationships at an age when previous generations would have found it unthinkable.

I marvel at their courage. Personally, I have been too scared of rejection to go down that path. When I did recently venture onto Channel Four’s Celebrity First Date, my date, a lawyer called John, damned me with faint praise. ‘For a lady of your advancing years, Esther,’ he told me, ‘you were splendid company.’ Thanks, John.

But that’s fine, because there are wonderful new ways of finding company these days for the over-70s.

Recently, in spite of my total lack of dance talent and muscle memory, I spent an evening in a church hall learning the French jive, Ceroc. Admittedly I needed frequent breathers to stay abreast of fellow baby boomers.

It’s arranged like the dance version of speed dating, changing partners every five minutes so you’re never caught in the sticky embrace of an over-amorous fellow dancer. It’s not just the vigorous exercise, but the jeggings my mum would never have contemplated. When I was younger, I did try to wear what was considered respectable but now, who cares?

At my age — 76 — my grandmother wore satin bloomers elasticated around the knee, handy for keeping a hanky to wipe her nose. Here am I happy in T-shirt and leggings.

Stanley Johnson, 76, writer, author and conservationist, lives in London and Somerset. He has four children by his first marriage to painter Charlotte Johnson-Wahl  and two by his second marriage to Jennifer Kidd

Stanley Johnson, 76, writer, author and conservationist, lives in London and Somerset. He has four children by his first marriage to painter Charlotte Johnson-Wahl  and two by his second marriage to Jennifer Kidd

Stanley Johnson, 76, writer, author and conservationist, lives in London and Somerset. He has four children by his first marriage to painter Charlotte Johnson-Wahl and two by his second marriage to Jennifer Kidd

CLIMBING KILIMANJAR0 WAS A PERSONAL HIGH

Stanley Johnson, 76, writer, author and conservationist, lives in London and Somerset. He has four children by his first marriage to painter Charlotte Johnson-Wahl (Boris, Rachel, Leo and Jo) and two, Julia and Max, by his second marriage to Jennifer Kidd.

I am now over halfway through my eighth decade and I can honestly say that, on present form and touching wood etc, it looks like knocking all previous decades into a cocked hat.

I began my 70s by scaling Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest peak at more than 19,500ft. I can’t tell you how amazing it feels to climb through the night, guided by the light of a head-torch, till dawn breaks and you find yourself looking down at the clouds beneath you.

There’s still a long way to the summit, but when you get there, the feeling is indescribable. Actually, I’ve climbed Kilimanjaro twice in the past five years, and I don’t rule out doing it again.

I am sure I will look back on my 70s as a golden decade in so many ways. There have been setbacks, of course. The high point of my political career was back in 1979 when I was elected as an MEP with a 95,000 majority! But I failed to be elected as an MP in Devon in 2005.

But life takes some surprising turns. I have been writing novels since the Sixties, and up till now not one has hit the bestseller list. But this week I heard that Channel 4 is making a six-part TV series based on my new thriller. I’m going to screen-test for a part. A new career beckons, which should see me out. As Clint Eastwood might say: ‘Make my decade!’

Kompromat by Stanley Johnson (Oneworld Publications, £14.99, July 13).

Author and actress Jan Leeming, 75, is best known as a BBC newsreader. In 2006 she took part in I¿m A Celebrity. She lives in Kent and has a son, Jonathan

Author and actress Jan Leeming, 75, is best known as a BBC newsreader. In 2006 she took part in I¿m A Celebrity. She lives in Kent and has a son, Jonathan

Author and actress Jan Leeming, 75, is best known as a BBC newsreader. In 2006 she took part in I’m A Celebrity. She lives in Kent and has a son, Jonathan

RETIREMENT? I’M FAR TOO BUSY FOR THAT

Author and actress Jan Leeming, 75, is best known as a BBC newsreader. In 2006 she took part in I’m A Celebrity. She lives in Kent and has a son, Jonathan.

I’ve never had any time to feel morbid about hitting 70. I was among the first tranche of women with full careers, and retirement is just not something I can imagine after such a busy life. I still want to make a contribution. And more practically I still need to earn money — no security and no pension!

I’ve trained as an assistant for Canterbury Cathedral — I do a two-hour duty on Sundays. People often comment on how like Jan Leeming I look! For a time, I thought that regular TV work had passed me by, but in 2015 came an invitation to join the cast of the BBC series The Real Marigold Hotel, exploring retirement in India.

After I mentioned that, being single, I never went on organised holidays, a holiday company invited me to become their ambassador. Thanks to them, I’ve visited Tuscany, Burma and Croatia, with Peru and Canada coming up soon.

The world has changed exponentially in the past 50 years because of travel, the internet, more wealth and health — the idea of going to a gym is anathema to me, but I walk my dog, watch what I eat and weigh myself every day (it’s so much harder to keep the weight off when you’re older).

Jan says: 'I¿ve never had any time to feel morbid about hitting 70. I was among the first tranche of women with full careers, and retirement is just not something I can imagine after such a busy life'

Jan says: 'I¿ve never had any time to feel morbid about hitting 70. I was among the first tranche of women with full careers, and retirement is just not something I can imagine after such a busy life'

She continues: 'I still want to make a contribution. And more practically I still need to earn money ¿ no security and no pension!'

She continues: 'I still want to make a contribution. And more practically I still need to earn money ¿ no security and no pension!'

Jan says: ‘I’ve never had any time to feel morbid about hitting 70. I was among the first tranche of women with full careers, and retirement is just not something I can imagine after such a busy life’

We are better educated and have higher expectations than our mothers. Most of my generation have held down jobs as well as having families and though we may love and respect our men, they do not rule our lives.

If I’d been born a generation later, I wouldn’t have married five times. I’d simply have had relationships.

I didn’t burn my bra and am not a feminist, though I believe in women’s rights. Perhaps being the first woman newsreader in Australia in the Sixties was the key to my realisation that the only restrictions are those you impose on yourself.

janleeming.com

Former editor Jo Foley, 71, is a specialist travel and wellness writer. Divorced, she lives in London with her cat, Maud

Former editor Jo Foley, 71, is a specialist travel and wellness writer. Divorced, she lives in London with her cat, Maud

Former editor Jo Foley, 71, is a specialist travel and wellness writer. Divorced, she lives in London with her cat, Maud

I’M GRATEFUL FOR 50 YEARS OF FREEDOM

Former editor Jo Foley, 71, is a specialist travel and wellness writer. Divorced, she lives in London with her cat, Maud.

How did I get here from there? To the life I live now — alone but not lonely, childless but surrounded by friends, some a third of my age — 71 on the outside, much less on the inside.

I’m still working and travelling and shouting at people in the street who annoy me. How did it happen that in one generation my life should be so different from that of my forebears? It happened because of choice.

Choice on what to do, where to go, how to live, who to see and most important, the confidence to take a chance and see what freeing ourselves from society’s restrictions does for us.

In the world in which my mother grew up, life was predictable and hidebound — such women lived at home with their families until marriage, after which they mostly remained in the same place, the same town, village or neighbourhood. It never occurred to them that they could be responsible for their own life.

But how our baby boomer generation made up for it! Sure it was scary and we did stupid things, but we mostly survived unscathed. We learned how to live in strange towns and cities at college or university.

At night we plotted escape routes to the sun, where we could find badly-paid jobs in beach bars or child-minding for careless couples with predatory dads, but we learned how to get from A to B. We still carried fear with us, but when the chips were down, and boy were they sometimes down, we scraped out of it.

Looking back from half a century later we realise it prepared us for the lives we live now. We learned self-sufficiency, resourcefulness, confidence and a dollop of selfishness — our own homes, our own friends and plans.

In our 70s we shop at Zara, drink pisco sours, take slow boats along the Mekong and talk to ourselves without contradiction. Did we ever think to thank our parents?

The Baby Boomers’ Guide To Growing Old, More 4 tomorrow

Our schools are hamstrung by Baby Boomer disputes

Should our primary and secondary schools instruct our children to think what we want them to think or teach them how to think for themselves?

It’s not a new question; but it is at the center of the gnawing, now half century long, divide within the baby boom generation over—well—just about everything.

Lacking resolution, it has left a sorry legacy and is responsible in large part for the muddled and conflicted education system we have now.

Consider the recent contradictory response to politically charged student artwork.

Local school administrators simultaneously resolutely defended free speech rights, apologized for its portrayal and then caused it to be taken down.  

This perceived need to serve clashing beliefs has directly led to a new difficulty we have as a society — separating truth from fiction — by shackling the central role of education in helping us to do so.

“A Subversive Activity”

In 1969, educators Neil Postman and Charles Weingartner published “Teaching as a Subversive Activity”, a landmark book that challenged methods they argued had become outdated, impractical, irrelevant and counterproductive in what was becoming a more rapidly changing, interdependent and information accessible world.

Postman later co-authored a 1985 book, “Amusing Ourselves to Death”, that presciently detected how the media already was developing trust issues with the public that would eventually damage its ability to serve as an effective arbiter of fact.

Postman and Weingartner observed that pupils who have an omnipresent interest in the process of inquiry more readily develop sound reasoning skills and become good learners.

Their approach to schooling encouraged students to question and discouraged teachers from directly answering those questions whenever possible.

The objective was to prompt students to inquire further.  

This “inquiry method” organizes instructors, resources and technology to both stimulate and support the initiatives of the learner, arguing that making the latter more responsible for his or her own education maintains commitment by encouraging each to explore what interests them with appropriate but minimal guidance.

For Postman and Weingartner, the act of educating is a cooperative social process best “achieved” through open collective discussion, as opposed to being “delivered” individually through lecture or instruction in a competitive environment.

Through the self-generation of continuous inquiry, education also becomes a dynamic lifelong process rather than an end game designed to produce fixed and indisputable conclusions that in reality are rare in an ever-changing world.

 Push Back

Fortunately, aspects of the inquiry method have filtered into our primary and secondary schools mostly as a result of individual teachers implementing them in their classrooms.

 In this way, our schools and education system could be said to be “subversive” by teaching our young how to consistently question the status quo, responsibly challenge authority when it only reinforces the stultifying effects of establishment thinking, and intelligently alter their perceptions in response to new discoveries arrived at through application of their own sound reasoning skills.

Apprehensive that it challenges long held beliefs and values, some seek either to insulate themselves and their children from it or discourage it in the community at large, in part as a means of having the schools foster social conformity.

Frankly, if those beliefs and values truly have lasting merit they should not only survive such inquiry, they should thrive in it. 

Instead, it is ironically the same Boomers that decried the situational ethics of the ‘60s as “self-serving” that seem to be embracing the self-serving ersatz “alternate facts” of today.

Conflicted and Hamstrung

These contradictory tugs are evident in those administrative responses to provocative student art and the (fortunately) more muted criticism of Shenendehowa’s provision of Ramadan prayer space for Muslim students. 

They also are resident in the test obsessed No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top federal policies that inspired the state-based Core Curriculum numbers-driven accountability for teachers and schools that have run roughshod over the learner-centered methods suggested by Postman and Weingartner.   

High school students especially are always keen to challenge and provoke along the lines conceived by the inquiry method. 

Too much of education policy today suppresses that spirit, mostly in response to those who are wary of it. 

A healthy self-governing society will always be in dire need of it. One need only look around us to witness how great that need is today.

Maybe we can finally get there once the Baby Boomers depart from the scene.  It’s hard to conceive how we’ll get there otherwise.

John Figliozzi is a regular contributor to the Sunday Opinion section.

Letter: Baby boomers need to get back to church

Baby boomers need to get back to church

I am a member of the baby boomer generation and because of that, I am brilliant. If we wanted it, we were almost guaranteed a college education. Because we are so brilliant, we can convince you that any kind of behavior is acceptable as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone else. Cause and effect are archaic concepts that can be circumvented by enlightened thinking. We are elite, and the age-old rules of decorum and common sense don’t apply to us.

Being a baby boomer, I have pretty much seen to the ruination of religious institutions. Most churches of all denominations are in dire straits with dwindling memberships because, after all: “I am a good person and I don’t need someone to tell me how to run my life.” I have decided to let my small children decide for themselves what kind of “spirituality” they will pursue, because they are even more brilliant than I am. Why would I need a church, when every time I admire myself in the mirror, every time I get on Facebook, I am constructing a shrine to myself?

The ’60s adage, “love the one you’re with,” has taken on a new dimension because most of us are devoid of a sense of community, of fellowship, and many of the self-help books that we gobble up have convinced us that we must love ourselves.

Now, moving on into our dotage, some of us are realizing the value of those around us, and that many of the tenets of the ’60s that seeped into our consciousness are utter tosh. Perhaps a trip back to the church we went to as a child would be a good way to reconnect. It may not be too late to save many of these churches if we begin to attend now. Wouldn’t it be a shame if, in our last-hour epiphany, there was no one there to help us close the book? The Buffalo Bills won’t mind if you come to the tailgate party at noon instead of 8 a.m.

David McElroy

Kenmore