Julie Masters, Ph.D., Professor and Chair
May 15, 2020
The last few months have been like no other. Our faculty have found themselves changing the delivery of their courses from in person to remote learning. While this may not seem like a big deal, for those of us who have never taught online before – it is a big deal. And for our teachers who also have the privilege of being parents, the juggling of homeschooling and keeping on task with other responsibilities including teaching classes, working on research, and supporting loved ones during this time of uncertainty has been nothing short of a herculean task.
Added to the change in course delivery is the grief expressed by our faculty in not being together with students in the classroom or at graduation. This is an absence that is hard to describe. Like our students, we all took for granted that we would be able to go to campus each day, interacting in meaningful ways as we worked to achieve our goals. We have now come to appreciate what we have lost. Perhaps this is one of the gifts of this pandemic.
While at UNO we carry the role of teachers, it would seem all of us are being called on to be teachers. Especially those working directly with aging adults and the elders themselves. This is our chance to let others know of the value of older people and how their wisdom and resilience can inform the rest of us. The lives of elders teach us much about what matters most in life. From those who are devoting hours to making masks to others who are showing us how to age with dignity while restricted to a nursing home bed, each person shows us the value of aging adults. Regardless of place and health status, older adults teach us what matters most. Highlighting the value of aging adults is our responsibility now and in the future. Perhaps this is the ultimate gift of the pandemic; that elders are finally held up as our most treasured resource.