Monday, March 29, 2010


On a blog that is now required reading for me, I've just been reading about a wonderful act of kindness by three teenage girls. This blog is now set to private, the girls took the time to pause their travels and care for and comfort some children who were injured and upset.

What these girls did was amazing and selfless and brave.

And it got me thinking about how great teenagers are, and how little we (by 'we' I mean we as a society) recognise that.

I am well aware that a great deal of the blame for that rests with the media, who love a good tale of teens out of control: teen joyriders, teen hooligans, teen party animals, reckless teens, violent teens, teen get the picture....(do a Google search on news+ teens, and you won't get too many 'feelgood' stories, that's for sure).

For a while now, I've been contemplating a move to high school teaching. Most of the people I know are fairly supportive, but many people make comments on how hard it would be to work with teenagers, how much attitude they give etc.
In my experience, a 10 year old can give as much (of not more) attitude than a teenager anyway!

Take Samuel for example. He was a bit of a ratbag, yes, occasionally bad-tempered, sometimes rude, often cranky, but he was a nice kid. Even when he was cranky or rude, he generally found a way to make up for it later. And really, it wasn't that often. And when thousands of strange hormones are running through your body, of course you're going to be a bit 'odd' (just ask any woman in their childbearing years!) And he had certainly 'mellowed' a hell of a lot by the time he hit high school! In fact, I'd say that his most horrible years were firmly based in primary school.

Sam had time for everyone. He chose his friends based on common interests and comparability, not popularity. He was funny and smart and optimistic. He could write well and was good at science and maths. He was a talented mimic and good at music. He went out of his way to help people and willingly spent one night a week with his nanna. He took on the responsibility we gave him willingly. He did as he was asked to do. He put up with a couple of workaholic, stressed, slightly crazy parents with good humour and grace. He followed the rules. He persisted with things that were hard (most of the time).
He was just a wonderful kid. To not have seen the kind of teenager he would have become is just criminal. Though I can make a pretty good estimation.

I get a glimpse of what he could have been through his friends and peers. Some of the things they have said about him confirm everything I had hoped he would be. He was such a good friend to them.

And then I see some of the things they do and it gives me hope. Why just tonight as I finished reading Kate's blog, I logged onto Facebook and saw a photo of Sam in my news feed. One of the lovely girls in his friendship group had taken a photo of him, added a poem and some lovely edited touches. Of course it brought me instantly to tears, but I thought it was just beautiful.

These kids constantly amaze me with wonderful gestures like that. And I can't help but think that if these kids, and Sam, and the girls in Kate's blog can be like this, then surely there are a whole heap of other teens that are just the same?

I'm not stupid or idealistic enough to believe that every teen in the world is wonderful and faultless and 'savable', but as long as I know there's a few, I know that the world's probably going to be OK. Hey they might have faults and make mistakes, isn't that what being a teen is all about? At least their faults and mistakes generally don't affect lots of people.
Come to think of it, I don't know a whole lot of adults who are wonderful and faultless, do you?

So I'd like to put it on the record that I think teenagers are OK. And the more I think about it, the more I think that high school is where I want to be. Yes there will probably be times when I think 'what the hell am I doing?', but who wouldn't want to be in on the wonderful roller coaster that is adolescence?


  1. you are braver than me... I would not like to teach high school myself, but then again, I teach special ed and many people say they could never do that, yet I find it amazing and much more rewarding than mainstream. Ultimately I would really like to be a BMC (behaviour management consultant) since it is also a growth industry (and got a very good taste for it at bundah) I reckon you'd be good at that too, since most of those types of kids are much more 'mature' (streetwise rather than age-wise) than your average kid.... much like a teenager tries to be!

  2. So good Mel - I refuse to listen to people who warn me that my kids will be awful once they become teenagers. It's a time I'm looking forward to - each stage of growth is special!

  3. Thanks girls.
    Deb, I'm one of those people who could not work in special ed. But BMC is something that I might look into some day. I got a lot of help from one in my first year out.
    And jonni - they really are awful sometimes, but I think you could say that for a child at any stage! I'm pretty sure I even said that once or twice. But they are also very wonderful.
    I miss my teenager very much.

  4. I hear you Mel. It annoys me that often the finger is first pointed at teenagers. In my experience, if you treat them respectfully then they will treat you with respect. (and i know this isn't always the case, even in my own home)We are all very good at judging but like you said, we are not perfect ourselves, so lets give teenagers a break! And for what it's worth, i think you would be great in high school!
    Ange xx

  5. Mel - I say go for it! Little me thought high school would be awful but I worked in a high school for one year and LOVED it. Best year of my teaching career to date.


I love comments!