Of course, one of the givens of professional life is that one never reveals one's fears! But everyone who teaches knows that fear abounds in the profession—from the fear of not knowing the answer, to the fear of losing control, to the fear of never knowing whether one's work has made a difference. All these fears are worth exploring, and some of them reach deeply into our souls. But there is one fear that most teachers feel, though few ever name, a fear that reaches more deeply into our adult lives than any of the others. It is our fear of the judgment of the young.
The daily experiences of many teachers is to stand before a sea of faces younger than one's own, faces that too often seem bored, sullen, even hostile. Even when one knows that these visages merely mask the fear in many students' hearts, it is still disheartening to stare into so much apparent disconfirmation day after day after day. The message from the younger generation that many teachers take home each night runs something like this: "We do not care about you and your values…You have been left in the dust by a culture whose words and music you don't even understand…You and your generation are on the way out, so why not just step aside and give us room to grow?" It is a difficult message to bear—especially in a profession where one grows old at a geometric rate, while one's charges remain young, year in and year out!