Sunday, September 1, 2019

6 Tricks to Get Rid of Your Old Dog Syndrome

Entering my 25th year in education, I’m pretty proud of this tremendous milestone. As I reflect, I can’t help but think of all the initiatives I’ve experienced or been a part of, how many changes I have witnessed personally, and how many new things I’ve been asked to undertake. With all that I’ve experienced in my career, it could have been easy to use my age, experience, lack of knowledge, or my personal comfort as the reason why I couldn’t take part in a change initiative.

The benefit of age and experience is that they allow us have a plethora of knowledge that we can draw upon to grow as educators. The downside of age and experience is that they cause us to develop the “Old Dog Syndrome”.  My abilities allow me to be strong in areas, but also play tricks on my mind that I’m not smart enough to make a change, this another symptom of “Old Dog Syndrome”.  Finally, our “Old Dog Syndrome” is reinforced every day by our comfort levels. 


Young adults and even students can become affected by “Old Dog Syndrome”, it’s easy to spot symptoms of Old Dog Syndrome, which include but are not limited to the following statements:
  • I can’t learn this. 
  • I’m too old to learn this stuff,
  • I’m not tech savvy enough,
  • I’ve done it this way so long that I’ll never be able to change,
  • I’m not as good as (insert name or group of people to wrongly compare yourself),
  • This is too difficult,
  • I’ll never be able to (insert task). 

To combat Old Dog Syndrome, we can take on the following  actions. 
  • Ask for help from others,
  • Tell leaders where the challenge is within the change,
  • Accept the fact that change is part of every facet in our world,
  • Make a daily commitment to learn one new thing each day,
  • Never use age as the barrier to growth. 
  • Never accept difficulties as a reason to stop growing and learning. 
“Old Dog Syndrome” does not apply to older people. It applies everyone of us when we believe that we can’t learn new things. It essentially petrifies the mind into its current state, thus new learning fails to take root. If we aim to end “Old Dog Syndrome”, we must recognize and reinforce that learning is not based on the age. It’s based on a deep desire for continuous improvement.

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