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London Secondary Schools: Teaching Teenagers

Not Just a Teenage Dirtbag?

In the wake of the London Riots it is easy for people to rehash the same old stereocategory_ids about teenagers. They’re selfish, rude, undisciplined. Society is doomed if this is the group of people who will one day be in charge. We weren’t this bad when WE were their age, we were responsible young adults. Technology has ruined them. They just want instant gratification.

Well, I’m here to rebut these accusations.

As a secondary English teacher I get to see all sides of the bizarre species known as teenagers.  I am the first to admit that these creatures drive me nuts for the majority of the day. But at the same time, they amaze me.

Let’s start with a kid crying in a classroom, as he’s had a falling out with his mate. I almost had to physically hold back my entire form class. They all wanted to go over and comfort him. Eventually, I encouraged them to let him be and left the counselling up to one of the boys in the form. This 14 year old talked to his peer about what had happened and from what I overheard, he was more successful than any school psychologist. He negotiated reconciliation between the two friends. And people say that teenagers are self centred and irresponsible?

A few weeks ago, I was teaching my Year 9 class and took off my cardigan. Unbeknownst to me, my new shirt had ripped at the seam on the back, exposing my bright pink bra. The assumption is that the class would snicker and whisper and I would find out about my shirt from a colleague later in the day (after embarrassing myself). This was not the case. A sweet girl at the back of the class quietly motioned me over and let me know about my shirt. One of the boys who had witnessed the event said, “Is there a breeze in here, Miss?” and instantly I felt grateful to the girl and to him, for making a joke out of a potentially horrifying incident.
Each and every day I see examples of teenage spirit and determination. The kids who come to school and work hard, despite the horrors happening at home. A girl who has had an operation but wants me to send her the work so she doesn’t fall behind. The kid who admits he made a mistake and apologises. Another kid who helps out without being asked. I see their ability to keep trying and asking for help. Their ability to make it clear when they don’t understand something. The girl who wisely says, “Boys. What can you do with them?” The outrage they show when you tell them of events involving racism or sexism. Their ability to change what they believe or think and accept new knowledge.

I could come up with other examples but you get the picture. Although teenagers can be difficult, they still manage to surprise you everyday with their compassion, enthusiasm, intelligence, positivity and, most of all, their ability to laugh. So every time I hear someone bagging teenagers I want to turn to them and ask: Do you actually KNOW any teenagers? Because I do. And I think that the future is in safe, technologically experienced hands.

~ by Georgina, a secondary English teacher currently teaching in UK schools through Protocol Education. Click here to read more by Georgina.


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Tags: Georgina, Teacher, Australian Teachers, UK Teaching Jobs, Teach in the UK, Teach in London, Secondary Teaching Jobs, Teenagers, English, Facebook, Twitter, Protocol Education

Category: UK Teaching Stories

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