Thursday, October 08, 2015

Kids Can't Be Bothered with the Niceties

So it is when you are a teacher. Teenagers have no use for diplomacy. Once a thought comes into their heads, it comes out of their mouths. As someone who's gone to many meetings and listened to many people expound at great length about absolutely nothing, I  have great respect for that quality.

I teach two double-period classes this year. My morning class has about thirty students. My afternoon class has eight, but one has never shown up, and another was so traumatized by the notion of the first test that he didn't show. Upon his return, I asked where he was and he told me he'd cut class. Not the very best excuse for missing a test, but you have to give him credit for honesty.

It's odd to have two such widely different classes. My morning class has a few very strong personalities, and they announce themselves at every opportunity. Sometimes I feel they announce themselves at every moment, but I'm kind of OK with that. However, what happens is I get through more activities with my relatively quiet PM class. Everyone there is very cooperative, but thus far none of them are inclined to speak until spoken to. It's as though I step on different planets in the AM and PM, and yet I'm in the very same room.

Having a little extra time, I asked the kids in my PM class whether they liked smaller or larger classes. Most of them liked the smaller classes. They said you can talk more, and that the teacher could help you more. One said she liked it because it was quiet. Oddly, I hate quiet. I like activity and this is a tough group to make that happen.

But two of the kids had different responses. One girl was in my class part of last year, and left for reasons no one has seen fit to share with me. What I remember most about her is her phone cases. Last year she had one with rabbit ears, and another one that was also kind of striking. This year she has one with what appears to be a bronzed door-knocker. I complimented her on it the first time I told her to put it away. She kept it out for a moment to show me it could be used as a stand. I complimented her again and told her to put it away again.

She says she likes bigger classes because she can use her phone. So it is, in fact, me who is ruining her young life by teaching her English. There's a whole world on that telephone and by spending 90 minutes a day with me she can only explore it for 22.5 hours a day. Clearly I am a monster.

A guy in that class said he liked larger classes because you could sleep. I'll grant you sleep is important for teenagers. I spent a lot of time explaining to my own daughter why staying out until all hours and going to school or work the next day was less than optimal. Yet teenagers don't see it that way. Why sleep at night when you can catch some Zs in English class? Who knows what that teacher is blathering about?

Diplomacy doesn't seem to be born before the twentieth year. Is that a bad thing?
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