Monday Column: The generation gap

Oman Sunday 23/October/2022 23:10 PM
By: Saleh Al-Shaibany
Monday Column: The generation gap
Saleh Al-Shaibany

I received a call from someone I have often thought about but lost touch with for many years. He came over to my house much older than when I last saw him. He is now heavier, much wiser and with an unmistakable weight on his shoulders, that comes with family responsibility. “You don’t look a day older since schooldays,” he teased me.

We were just in our mid-teens when we parted and now, we both have a string of children. Where have all the years gone?

We sat for four hours tracing back the passage of time that was graced with college, career and marriage. We talked about our teachers and their methods of teaching. We realised that most of them had profound effect on our adult lives in very contrasting ways. We also tried to trace the lives of our class­mates and wondered what had happened to them.

A school is a cultivating field, some crops reach their expectations, while the rest, maybe because of missed opportunities, lose their way. It would be nice, we thought, if we could meet every classmate, at least once in our lifetime -just once again -to talk about what we have individually achieved in our adult lives.

However, we both agreed that, the word ‘achievement’ is controversial. We did not contest that because, we both knew that, no one could put their life’s accomplishments in a plastic bag and weigh it on a scale.

We did touch upon the lives of our school friends from what we heard from their relatives. We came to a conclusion that, as we went different ways to pursue separate careers, we left behind a life that was different to the one we lead now. “Work and responsibilities were far from our minds then,” he told me, “we tried to strike a balance between play and education. I am not sure which of the two has influenced our lives more.”

In the middle of these thoughts, I spared a thought for our children, who live in the age of laptops, mobile phones and virtual reality. Learning is much easier now with the presence of all this around them. Parents, eager to make something out of their children, provide extra tuition themselves or pay someone else to do it.

Then, there is the array of educational software and the Internet to tap a wealth of information from. My children did not think much when I told them how I used to struggle to do my schoolwork. “We solely relied on the skills of our teachers,” I told them, “there was no electronic media to fall back on nor parents knowledge­able enough to help.”

They looked at me and their expressions asked, “so what?” My first reaction was to be angry, but then, on second thought, how could I blame them for something they were not responsible for? We all know how they take learning for granted but to them “too much still is not enough.”

I wonder what my children would tell their offspring about their own school days. In this instance, history would repeat itself but in different circumstanc­es. It would be nice if we could all sit together and compare the teachers and learning materials of three generations.

I have also learned, after the reunion of my long lost friend, to be more tolerant with my children’s classmates even when they call at odd hours. I now appreciate more when they come over to discuss about their studies.

When my former classmate left, after an enlightening reunion, I adopted a different view and promised myself to tackle my children’s life problems in a different and better way.