Eldership: Is this self conceit by a few or are we in education constantly losing this to retirement?

This post is a little introspective so I apologize in advance if the topic is not of interest.

Last week was a little strange for me and it started with my regular Monday night viewing of the ABC’s show Q&A. While the topic of the show on ‘primates’ was not linked my introspective reflections two of the women present (Jane Goodall and Rosalie Kunoth-Monks started me on this line of thinking about eldership.

Now before any readers start to link my age (I’m 60 soon) to the topic and I checked some online dictionary definitions

The adjective elder is not a synonym for elderly. In comparisons between two persons, elder means “older” but not necessarily “old”. In other contexts elder does denote relatively advanced age but with the added component of respect for a person’s achievement, as in an elder statesman.


I checked further on what sorts of characteristics are there that denote this state of eldership and three I thought important to note from a long list are:

FREEDOM: They have the freedom to speak their mind because they are no longer seeking to ascend in life and do not need to be concerned with the politics of success. They are also not attached to much.

COURAGE: They are willing to stand up and speak out. And they have the courage to face their own lives as is.

SELF-VALIDATION: They have a deep appreciation of their own self and while they may enjoy the validation of others, they do not seek it in the way younger men and women do. Their validation comes from the Spirit or from within.


Later on during the week I caught up with two other long-standing principals both of whom I admire as much for their different strengths as I do for their mate-ship. Both of them talked about some recent happening on the education scene with much passion. Both of them have these three qualities of freedom, courage and self validation in abundance. I suppose I considered them elders in their education communities. Before our meal ended they both talked about retirement in the near future and some of their interests going forward. This got me to wondering about the constant loss of eldership in education communities unlike other communities like churches.

All this has got me to wondering about myself, eldership and when will my time come to retire and what I will do. Currently I’m really busy writing on a few topics and I wonder if that’s part of my future going forward. I’m left with some mixed feelings here and lots of questions:

– do I consider myself an elder and if so (if that’s not too conceited) do I show those same qualities?

– do I have the courage to speak freely on a range of things ( I would like to think in reflective ways)?

– Are these questions normal for professional people like myself after 20 years of leading three different communities?

My school has recently completed its quadrennial school review process and as we start to plan our next four year strategic plan do I have the freedom and courage to speak about my/our values and improvement plans as I see them? Do others have these same feelings and wonderings? I’m not sure but I’d love some feedback

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