What is Ageism?

This lesson helps students to determine and analyze their own ageist attitudes and break down stereotypes about people of different ages.
Grade Level


Activities will help students:

  • Determine and analyze their own ageist attitudes 
  • Break down stereotypes about people of different ages 
  • Combat ageism in their everyday lives 
Essential Questions
  • What is ageism?
  • Why is it harmful to discriminate against others because of their age?


1) Have you ever been judged by someone solely because of your age? Turn and talk to a partner and share your story. (Note: Explain that ageism is when people are discriminated against because of their age.)

2) Complete the Ageism Survey to help determine your current attitudes about age.

3) (Note: While students are completing the Ageism Survey, write the following statements on the board:

  • Teens shouldn’t be trusted.
  • Teens can’t do anything on their own; they always need adult supervision.
  • Teens shouldn’t have opinions about politics or the world because they don’t understand those kinds of complicated topics.)

4) How did you score on the Ageism Survey? Do you sometimes discriminate against people because of their age? Read what’s written on the board. What are your thoughts about the statements? Share your responses with the class. (Note: Explain that the statements on the board are examples of age discrimination. Help students make the connection that just like they don’t want to be discriminated against, people who are older or younger than they are don’t want to face ageist attitudes either.)

5) What are some ways the media (e.g., advertising, television and movies) reflect ageist attitudes? As a class, make a list of characters or people in the media who reflect ageist stereotypes. (Note: If students need assistance with this activity, ask the following questions:

  1. Are there any movies/TV shows where an older person is made fun of for being “weak” or “incapable”?
  2. Are there any advertisements you’ve seen that seem to lump a whole age group together?

6) Read the following article where people share their experiences with ageism: Ageism in America. As you read, complete a Facts and Opinions chart. In your notebook, draw a T-chart where the left column is labeled "Facts" and the right is labeled "Opinions." Stop after a section of text in the article and record the main facts in that section. Beside each fact, record your opinion of it. After you've read the article, turn and talk to a partner and share your Facts and Opinions chart. Did you both pick out similar main facts? Were your opinions on each fact similar or different?

7) Now that you’ve read a bit about age discrimination, respond in your journal to the following questions: Why is age discrimination harmful to people and to society as a whole? If time permits, share some of your reflections with the class.

8) At some point this week, conduct an interview with someone in your life about ageism. You can choose to interview someone older or younger than you. Brainstorm a list of possible questions for your interview. Consider using the following questions to help get your interview started:

  • Has anyone ever made fun of you because of your age? When?
  • Is it harmful to judge people because of their age? Why?
  • Are there ever good reasons to discriminate against someone because of their age? Why or why not?

9) Share your completed interview with your class.

10) Create a list of ways to fight ageism. Here are some examples to help get you started:

  • Make friends with someone younger or older than you are.
  • If you hear someone making fun of another person because of their age, speak up and share what you know about age discrimination.
  • Stand up for yourself when someone calls you “just a kid.” Respectfully explain that even though you’re younger, that doesn’t mean you can’t have an opinion.


Extension Activity

Share what you’ve learned about ageism with your family. Tell them about times when you felt you were discriminated against because of your age. Ask them if they’ve ever been the victim of age discrimination at any age.