Why am I, a 40 something year old, complaining about middle school? Because experiencing it as a parent of middle schoolers is ALMOST worse than having experienced it as a student myself.
Gee, I wonder why the following strategy is not working –
Teenagers get bored easily- strip the art off the walls and out of the curriculum.
Teenagers are beginning to feel misunderstood and that the world is against them- antagonize, patronize and threaten them from day one so they know who’s boss.
Teenagers feel awkward and uncomfortable in their skins- make everything a competition, compare students and make an effort to humiliate and punish any perceived misbehavior.
Teenagers are growing and eating like pigs- cut down physical activity and athletics during the school day, admonish them if they get antsy or try to move around AND/OR Teenagers are overloaded and over-scheduled – force the piling on of 2 hours a day of extracurricular sports to meet their physical needs.
Teenagers are exhausted and are biologically wired to sleep at least 10 hours – assign 3+ hours of homework a night and start school earlier.
Teenagers begin to pull away from parents but need them desperately – ensure that any and all family time is consumed by homework, projects and/or arguing over said homework/projects.
And of course, the winning ticket:
Teenagers have apparently not actually been learning via the “teach to the test” method – change the curriculum to an even more stringent, inflexible one designed specifically toward the aim of passing standardized test.
My kids are in a “progressive” school but this is what I see pretty much regardless of the stated philosophy of various middle schools.
Teenagers are tender, sensitive, impressionable, self-conscious, creative, eager to learn, gaining awareness of the nature of the world both good and bad (but more bad than good relative to their prior years). Teenagers are grappling with existentialism, seeking independence, warding off bullies, drugs, sex, peer pressure, parental pressure, college pressure (already), changing bodies that need to bathe more often and “deodorize” (as we call it in my house).
These kids do not need the adults in their lives to be “buddies” but they do need to be treated with respect, patience and fairness. They need more sleep. They need their time to be regarded as valuable and not wasted on busy work. They need help when faltering, not detention. They need more exercise when having outbursts, not to have recesses taken away. They need firm rules and reasonable, logical consequences that teach them to see clearly how cause and effect works.
My kids have it pretty good and are lucky they have a parent who has hours to put into assisting with homework and interacting with teachers and conversing with them about life and moral dilemmas and any other issues that arise.
Still, these are tough times made needlessly tougher.
That’s my rant. I’d like to redirect my frustration toward finding solutions, however, first I have to go get my kids, help them with their homework, make sure they do their music practice, eat dinner, shower and get to bed (not too late).