Friday, December 5, 2008

Energy Crisis

I teach middle school, which on any given day, is equivalent to the game Whack-a-Mole. I used to call it a simmering pot. I would stand in front of agitated seventh graders who at any moment would erupt to boiling. Boiling mad, boiling in love, boiling loud...just boiling. But now I believe it's definitely whack-a-mole. Whack...sit down Bradley, whack...here's a pencil, Darryl...whack...why are you crying, Lauren? Whack, whack, whack.
One day recently I had to attend a meeting held in a high school. Without thinking, I arrived just at dismissal time and placed my hand on the door as the bell rang. I froze, knowing for sure that I was about to be trampled. I turned slightly to return to my car, or perhaps to RUN. And then I saw them. High School students. Not running. Instead I stood in shock as children taller than me sauntered toward me. "Excuse me, Ma'am," one polite gentleman said as he held the door for me to enter. I couldn't believe what I was seeing. I pictured what my own school must look like at that exact moment: the moles were most likely running, bumping, hitting, kicking, and screaming their way to the buses. Frantic teachers were in the halls whacking - "Slow downnnnn!" whack "Stop pushing!" whack, whack, whack....

Today I had the opportunity to visit the same high school again. There they were...sauntering seniors. The classroom I observed had varied examples of students slumping in seats. There was no simmering...no eruptions were scheduled. I even commented to the teacher about the lack of urgency in the halls as we watched the students change classes. "Yea," she said, "It's almost like they're walking backwards."

I have to wonder what happens to middle school kids when they get to high school. Where does all that energy go? Do they expend it during athletic practices, chemistry homework, the Prom? Or did the three years they were whacked in middle school break their spirits? Did we middle school teachers beat them down to this puddle of sludge? I left depressed and tired.

My friend, the eighth grade teacher, was complaining today. "These kids are too WILD," he yelled in frustration.

"Get thee to a high school," I encouraged him. "They saunter over there."

But while I was there, I was eager to get back to my goofy little moles. They're so much more fun...

3 comments:

Mr. Beingessner said...

I agree! The moles are much more fun. I fear that we do such a good job of cramming irrelevant information into their heads in high school that their spirit is beaten down - a saunter is all they can muster. I think if we ran high schools more like middle or even elementary schools, we'd have much less sauntering, and much more enthusiasm. But, would most high school teachers be ready for it?

SOLOMON SAMI AZAR said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Sunny said...

I have to confess that I too love all that makes a middle school student a middle school student. They aren't little like the elementary kids I use to teach, and they aren't almost grown either. How lucky I am to be able to wrok with these kids on a daily basis! Now, I will just have to remind myself that I said this as the last week before break draws to an end...