Aging 101 class experiences aging firsthand
In Aging 101, students can expect to see bodily changes resulting in fast-paced aging and some loss of memory related to their early life. Photo courtesy of Matthias Zomer via Pexels.

Aging 101 class experiences aging firsthand

Professor Elle Derly held a special interdisciplinary assignment for her Aging 101 students that combined aging with appreciation for the fine arts. The students were asked to choose an art assignment and compare their reactions from when they were young to when they were old. Since past assignments were “not up to par” according to Derly — students lacked the imagination to create thoughts as if they were elderly — Derly decided that this year her students would be subjected to advanced accelerated aging to truly follow the assignment protocol.

Junior sociology major Jerry Atrick was apprehensive of the assignment at first. “I was in the prime of my life 20 minutes ago, and suddenly I’m sensing the weather with arthritis on my knees,” he said concerning the aging process the students underwent.

When asked about the technology she subjected her students to, Derly only ensured that the technology’s effects were temporary. “I’d lose my chance at tenure if anything went wrong,” she claimed.

Atrick had assumed the image of a man in his 80’s.  He had wrinkles on his t-zone and silver hair to adorn his facial features. His voice was also more hoarse and ragged than it was last week. Atrick’s posture was skewed, requiring him to use a walker to move around campus. Atrick thought this disposition made the assignment almost too much to handle.

When asked about the assignment, Atrick did concede that his aging did help with the latter part of the project. “I thought that I would have the same thoughts about [The Center for Art Design and Visual Culture’s online exhibition, “Revolution of the Eye”], but I surprisingly didn’t.” Atrick had chosen the online exhibit for its convenience, but his advanced age made him want to experience the art in person.

Of the pieces he saw of the exhibit, Atrick was most intrigued by the CBS program “Winky Dink And You” that aired from 1952 to 1957.  The show was geared to have children draw art with the television screen as a canvas.  Atrick not only wished he was physically at the exhibit, but he wished he had the memories to feel nostalgic about the era of the 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s. “To be old now was to be young in that interesting avant-garde era,” he remarked. “They actually watched TV then.”

Derly stated, “The accelerated aging is effective in making the students play the part of their older counterparts. They’re like actors playing the part, although their mental age is still the same. This process will finally make these assignments bearable for me to read.”

When asked about the side effects of the accelerated aging process such as withering gray hair or sustained back issues, Derly gave no comment. Atrick stated, “If I don’t look and feel as I was before at least a week from now, then I better get my A in this class.”