“Why would you want to go from teaching adults to teenagers? ugh!” – a little rant!

This has been bugging me for a while.  There are many occasions when I meet someone and the discussion turns to why would I decide to teach teenagers instead of adults.  Often this is coupled with a sound or look of disgust or just plain bewilderment that I would even consider to do such a crazy thing!  If I was a teenager I would be offended and yet people (adults) assume this type of stereotyping of teenagers or young adults is ok.  The cashier (approx. in her mid-20’s) at the local grocery store announced in conversation yesterday that “young people today are so lazy”.  A woman who I met at my children’s gymnastics class nearly choked out her disgust that I would do something so “stupid”.  A Professor at the University that I currently attend told me in a kind of sneer (I don’t think I imagined it) that “You’ll find that tertiary teachers very rarely decide to stoop down to teaching in High Schools”.

So, you might be wondering how I respond?  Well, sometimes I just laugh it off and tell them that I like teaching and that I like teenagers because they’re cool.  Sometimes I get into a long conversation about how I often thought that I would have liked to have taught ICTs to my tertiary students while they were in High School to give them a better head-start maybe.  I also believe that I can have more of a positive impact on a young adult’s life as a High School teacher.  There are so many reasons!  In the end it doesn’t matter what anyone thinks because I’m doing it.

What is a concern is how easily adults put-down teenagers/young-adults.  This stereotype that kids are lazy or that they are unable to think critically because all the answers are available to them instantly (google) is sad and an absolute distortion; it’s not true!  I hear a lot of people complain that young people have too high expectations in the work place; so do we want our young people to have low expectations?  No, I don’t!

Before making assumptions about young people, how about you actually start talking to them first?  Or better yet, start reading a bit of Giroux and how he believes that young people are disenfranchised and under assault.  “Not only do they live in a space of social homelessness in which precarity and uncertainty lock them out of a secure future, they also find themselves living in a society that seeks to silence them as it makes them invisible” (Giroux, 2012).

Giroux, H. (2012). The “Suicidal State” and the war on youth. Retrieved on 27 April 2012 from http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/8421-the-suicidal-state-and-the-war-on-youth

7 comments on ““Why would you want to go from teaching adults to teenagers? ugh!” – a little rant!

  1. cbcsmmjg says:

    Hurray! What a passionate and heartfelt plea for our future adults and the teachers that strive to make a difference by choosing to work in this field of education. With this much determination you are sure to make a difference! Christine

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  2. David Jones says:

    Do you get the *shudder* when people hear for the first time that you are planning to be a high school teacher? That was the most common response I received, a shudder quickly followed by the confused, “Why?”

    It sounds like your approaching this with a really will informed and – as Christine notes – passionate perspective and drive. We need more like you and I only wish the system and society encouraged more to enter the profession.

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    • elketeaches says:

      Hi David. Yes, I get the *shudder* and the inevitable “Why?” It’s the assumptions and stereotypes behind this that are worrisome. Oh well, I’m getting quite good at answering this question now.

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  3. Yes, I got that shudder too, but it comes on us with many experiences in life! Why do you want to move from Sydney to North Queensland, why do you want to move from the Whitsundays to Nerang? Why do you want to work with kindergarteners? It is just the remarks from people who dont understand what passion and excitement is all about. They wouldn’t do it, so why would you! We have so much to give and so much to share, of our talents, our natural sparks and we enjoy others gifts and talents, and watching the sparks fly!

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  4. Elke, it is so good to read from you and others how much you enjoy teaching adolescents. They energize some of us and it is calling or niche. I spent two days as a substitute teacher in a kindergarten class when I first began teaching. I could never do it and found my home as a junior high school teacher. We each need to find that space which suits us. It allows us to retain our passion, commitment, and compassion. Several years ago, I had the opportunity to hear a journalist from Edmonton speak and she said children of all ages are marginalized and it is teachers who can make a difference. Thank you for sharing.

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  5. […] Schools.  To avoid wasting my time writing another rant about this, please READ my response here: “Why would you want to go from teaching adults to teenagers? ugh!” – a little rant!  Instead of putting-me down for my choice to Educate the young adults in OUR society, maybe you […]

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