When I explain to people that I’m going back to school to be a middle school or high school teacher, I get all kinds of responses, mostly along the lines of: “Are you crazy?” “Kids are so rude, disrespectful, undisciplined, lazy…. and the list goes on. I disagree. I believe in the youth of today. Beyond their different talk, walk, music, clothes and language, they aren’t so different from my generation. I believe they have a lot to say if we give them a platform. I believe we can learn from them if we give them a chance. The youth of today want us to believe in them.
I had the privilege of spending a week this past summer with our church youth group in Tennessee with close to 6,000 other students. I saw them experience emotions, laugh, cry on each others shoulders, offer comfort, and express themselves through dance, music, and worship. They don’t worship the same way most in my generation and those of my parent’s generation. However, they worship the same God, with energy, passion, and have a vision for the future. I saw our youth give of their time and their money to package food for those less fortunate. I saw them show love to the unlovable.
Our youth of today press on amidst pressures much greater than I faced twenty plus years ago. Despite what many may think, they desire to please parents, teachers and peers. They live in a hurried society, pressured to keep up in sports, school, AP classes, get good grades, and have an active social life. They fear failure and disappointment. They embrace diversity, which fosters change which, in turn produces fear in an older generation.
Who’s to say that the girl with all the body piercings, or the guy with the funny colored hair won’t be able to envision beyond conventional medicine to find a cure for cancer or AIDS someday? I believe our youth are often misunderstood. I believe if we take the time to get involved in their lives and get to know them wherever they may be, they will welcome us with open arms. The barriers will only come down when we reach out to them.
So, when people look at me funny for deciding, at my age, to go back to school to teach, it’s because I believe in a generation of caring, motivated, creative teenagers who hope for a better future than that of their parents and grandparents. I believe in a generation that may not talk, walk, dress, or act like me. A generation not stuck in the past, who embrace change and the world around them. I believe that yes, while they can learn much from an older generation, we can learn much from them. I believe in the youth of today.
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