intergenerational communication

Junior High Pressure

kids

Do you remember your Junior high years? My Junior high years could be summarized in one word – PRESSURE

  • Academic pressure – Will my grades allow me to take the classes I need to have in high school?
  • Peer pressure – Do I fit in? What is it that I want to fit in to?
  • Parent pressure – Why can’t I talk to my parents? I don’t want to talk to my parents!
  • Media (Self-image) pressure – Am I cute enough, sexy enough to be on the cover of a Hollywood magazine?
  • Time pressure – school, sports, chores, hanging out with my friends? How do I fit it all in?

It is not my intention to get into psychological, physiological or hormonal changes that form the basis of these pressures.

Rather, I want to share the voice of these young people who are dealing with them. I want to share their words that come from their gut, heart, and soul, their feelings, their observations and the humor many of them use to make sense of it all.

Their journey is taking them into uncharted territory and frankly, many are not interested in listening to those who have traveled before them. (Of course, that was not my problem. I was always willing to listen.)

Some are entering this territory with the armor of support from parents and a loving, healthy childhood that has instilled in them a sense of security.

Listen to the voice of a child with this armor.

I don’t really need a gift because I have everything a child could hope for: loving parents, a bed to sleep in, warmth for my body, and food in my stomach. Some kids out there would pray to have those four simple things. This technology now has corrupted our minds into thinking we need all those expensive things when in fact we don’t.

The gift I would love to give is things to the homeless. My family and I want to go out this year for Christmas and provide them with clothes and blankets so that they don’t freeze in these cold winter nights.

Others – too many others – are entering into this new territory with no armor at all, resulting from a childhood that has instilled in them a sense of fear and insecurity.

Listen to the voice of a child without this armor.

A gift I would like to receive would be love. I would like love because I want to know that someone cares. Another reason I chose love is because I could talk to someone who would listen and not ignore me. This is why I chose love as my gift to receive for Christmas.

Most of us know young people who are on this part of life’s journey.

Will their armor withstand the journey?

How might you strengthen their armor?

 

 

intergenerational communication

Present Meets the Past

kids

I’m from the teaching era that required students to write their assignments in cursive. (I still believe they should, but that’s a topic for later blogs.) You know, the era when, if you wanted to say something, you wrote a book and tried to get someone to publish it. So “blogging” for me is definitely a step outside of my comfort zone. But how do you grow if you don’t stretch? Please, join me in my stretch.

When asked what I did for a living, my response usually received one of two reactions: either a hand on the shoulder along with a look that said, “I’m sorry” or a step back with a look that said, “What is wrong with you?”

Indeed, my profession deserved both responses. I often felt that way myself. You see, I was a Jr. High teacher…Yes, Jr. High…“Middle School” as it is more commonly referred to now. Ages 13 – 15…puberty. Actually, it is a very easy age group to teach. I mean, at what other age are you going to have students that know everything… you know, that age when they have all the answers!

All of life is a journey. My journey has been divided into four chronological periods. First, childhood and growing up; second, looking ahead and preparing for my future; third, living and accumulating experiences and lessons; and now, retirement and time to reflect.

Within each period there has been a blending and sometimes tension between my personal life and my professional life. Indeed, there were many times when I felt as if I were living two lives – my personal life which was sometimes a train wreck and my professional life which was successful and fulfilling. God has blessed me in the last 20 years of uniting these two into a life of wholeness. Until I truly experienced being “whole”, I did not realize how compartmentalized my life was. (I suspect this may be true for many of us)

I’m writing now out of the fourth part of my journey: retirement and reflection. It was initiated a few months ago when I was going through some of my students’ work that had been kept in my file cabinet. The work included the fruit of two assignments – a poetry unit and a journal response.

The poetry was the result of a six-week unit. The final project was a poetry book that the students were to write and illustrate. Their poetry needed to represent the various forms of poetry that we studied.

The prose responses are from students to the following prompt given to them at Christmas time: Write about what you would like to give and receive for Christmas but your gifts may not cost any money.

I’m retired now after a 33-year career of teaching. And yes, retirement is a very good part of teaching. But as I reread and reflected on this student writing, I realized that the greatest treasure of teaching is the memories I have and the blessing of having participated in the lives of many young people for a time in their lives.

This realization came in the form of a poem that had been written by a 14-year-old boy in my class over 18 years ago.

 Memories

Lost or found, memories live on

Sometimes forgotten,

Sometimes remembered

Do with them what you wish

For they are yours to possess

 

Whether you cherish them or hate them

They are yours as they come with experience

They are not to be taken for granted

Lost or found, memories live on.

Amazing!

The irony of a student’s writing written under my tutelage at the beginning of his life’s journey has given direction and focus to me at this point in my life’s journey!

And that is what this blog is all about – the two-way street of ‘lessons learned’; those I taught to my students and those my students taught to me.