These past couple of weeks, I’ve been doing my teaching practicals at two high schools (it’s a long story). I have to do a lot of lesson observations in addition to teaching. So, I sit at the back of the class and observe (and do all the paperwork that comes with it). Most of the learners ignore me or don’t even know I’m there, so I get an inside view of what it’s like to be a teenager, and man, kids these days have a weird time.
I think this is a terrible time to be a teenager because you can’t have the ‘proper’ teenage experience. In South Africa, the pandemic is running rampant (even though the government won’t admit it), and you can’t go out clubbing. Also, alcohol sales are banned from Fridays to Sundays. If that wasn’t bad enough, the curfew is 22:00.
See what I mean? You can’t even be a ‘proper’ teenager.
With the pandemic, technology in schools has become much more prominent. It seems like every single subject has a WhatsApp group. This can make things a lot easier, you know, with students in isolation and whatnot. But teenagers are not supposed to be on their phones the whole time.
Firstly, the excessive use of cell phones has a detrimental effect on your concentration levels. Secondly, I have seen how it affects social skills.
It has happened a few times this year that a teacher gets sick and then I have to invigilate (babysit) the class. Three-quarters of the classes sat alone the entire period on their phones. That’s sad. Those moments in between classes or when given time off in class is when you get to chat with classmates and build relationships. It’s sad that they’re missing out on that.
I will admit, ten years ago when I was in school, we were also obsessed with our cell phones, but it feels like it’s getting worse at an alarming rate.
These days, teenage drama is directly linked to social media. There have been countless times where I sat in class and overheard who’s dating who, and who DM-ed a girl that they shouldn’t have. There was some drama about liking Instagram photos, not liking Instagram photos and TikToks.
Geez, I’m on social media for the memes (especially the 9gag pages)—it makes life so much simpler (and entertaining).
The amount of work
Did high school kids always have so much work to do? When I think back to school, I honestly think we had less. Although, I remember school with rose-tinted glasses.
Most of the kids do sport and cultural activities on top of all their academics. How do they get the time for everything?
Here I must also mention that a lot of the sport orientated people do not focus on their academics (at all), and I’ve seen it become a big problem.
Waking up so early
In South Africa, most schools start at 07:30.
How did I wake up that early for 12 years? I remember we had to be ready by 6:45, so I got up at 5:45. The reason we drove to school that early is that my dad’s work was on the other side of town. My dad was also a champ for getting up that early.
I’m really struggling to wake up at 6:00 in the morning for my teaching practicals, but I hope I’ll get used to it.
I don’t know how teenagers just have so much energy, even during the last period of the school day.
And I don’t mean ‘energy’ to concentrate and actually listen to what I’m saying. No, I mean, they always have the energy to do and say stupid shit.
Having to think and concentrate the entire time
I am used to concentrating for extended periods of time, but, damn, these kids are having a hard time with it. (also see ‘technology’)
I think it’s ridiculous to have these kids (at my school) have four periods of class (three hours) before they have a break. They really struggle to think and concentrate for that long. They should rather have more, but shorter breaks.
Sometimes the teenagers in my classes talk and I think, “I have no idea what you’re saying” because of the slang and whatnot. They also talk extensively about all the weird TV series that they watch and again, I don’t know what they’re talking about.
I think teens get a bad rep, because of things that are out of their control—hormones, technology, the pandemic, and an awful society in general.
They have to deal with a lot more stuff than we ever had to and we expect them to just take it in their stride. Kids have it weird these days and I think we should just cut them a little slack.
What do you think? Do you agree with the points I’ve made here? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.
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