Understanding and Challenging Ageism

Ability, Disability & Ableism
Bias, Discrimination & Hate
Age and Job Search Discrimination

iStock

Grade Level:
Middle School,
High School
Common Core Standards:
Reading, Speaking and Listening, Language
Ability, Disability & Ableism
Bias, Discrimination & Hate

Ageism is a term that was coined in 1969 by Robert Neil Butler as a way to describe bias against older people; the term was patterned on definitions of sexism and racism. Ageism is most commonly understood to describe bias and discrimination against older people but it can also include bias against young people or even specific age groups like millennials. Ageism can take many forms including discrimination (in employment, housing, healthcare, etc.), violence, exclusion, media portrayals, microaggressions, stereotyping, belittling and more. It is important that students understand and reflect on examples of ageism in their lives and in society in general because, like all forms of bias, it contributes to a culture of intolerance and injustice in society.

This lesson provides an opportunity for students to understand what ageism is and the many ways it manifests, reflect on specific examples and categorize them and consider ways they can be allies and take actions to confront and challenge ageism.

More from this Section

Survival to Service: Examining Lives of Hidden Children of the Holocaust

A middle/high school curriculum unit based on the life of a hidden child of the Holocaust, draws upon individual stories of loss, survival and rescue to raise student awareness about the Holocaust and increase their commitment to moral decision-making and combating bias and hate.