Okay, I wasn’t really an 8th grade zombie, but sometimes it felt like it. Wondering around, being self-absorbed in my own quest and hunger for human connection, brains, and eternal unrest. Sigh.
It’s no secret I love to read, and I read for a multitude of purposes. One of my main reasons for reading is so I can learn from other teachers and become a better teacher myself. I came across this article, http://siobhancurious.wordpress.com/2007/09/02/characteristics-of-adolescent-thinking/ on a blog, and it was pretty darn interesting.
There are four important characteristics that distinguish adolescent thinking from more mature thinking:
- adolescent egocentrism (intense preoccupation with one’s own feelings and lack of connection to feelings of others),
- imaginary audience (the belief that one is the focus of others’ thinking and attention)
- personal fable (the belief that no one else can possibly understand one’s feelings and experiences because they are unique), and
- illusion of invulnerability (the belief that bad things only happen to other people.)
Although it reminded me of things I already know, such as teenagers are self-centered, hyper-critical, self-obsessed, world-revolves-around-me beings, and I am a mature, grounded adult (she wrote rolling her eyes sarcastically), it also helped me remember I need to find the patience and compassion needed to be a good teacher.
All year long students get so many mixed messages: you are told to talk and discuss on topic, stay on task, be kind to each other, take risks, sit down, stand up, don’t shut down, but shut up, listen, talk, listen, talk, stop the drama, read drama, act out drama, but don’t be the drama queen, I’m the queen, don’t be so mean, work hard, be nice, and look out for natural consequences. Make good choices. Do this. Don’t do that. It’s black and white and grey all over. Confused yet?
The “personal fable” and the “invulnerability” are my two favorites, really. No sarcasm. I think we all need to create and appreciate our own personal fables–that’s where writers are born and thrive.
As far as invulnerability goes, the adults can tell you all they want that you are not ‘bullet-proof.’ However, here’s advice you should heed: yes, you do need to learn for yourself, BUT, don’t make it a permanent choice, one that will hurt you, your family, and your chances for success forever–find a way to get back into good graces.
So, future 8th grade students: bring it on. Come to my classroom, ready to cocoon and emerge as young adults. I’ve already met many of you, and I can tell I like you already. Time to eat some brains.