“God, these kids!”

I subbed in a class last week. It was a fl class, Spanish. There were 3 block classes so they lasted an hour and a half. The assignment was very loose and open-ended: write a skit. Hmmm. That can be a recipe for disaster.

What I got was a bunch of kids, average size classes, who easily moved into self-selected groups and got started and stayed on the task. They were happy to find I knew Spanish and asked questions. All in all, a pleasant day for me. At one point, I was talking Spanish to one of the kids and several others were very excited to find they could understand me. Very nice.

That same day, toward the afternoon, I got a call from the sub who had been in the class the previous day. He had left something he needed to pick up. He arrived well into the last class and I was about to say how nice and hard-working these kids were when he made a derogatory comment about them, one of those, “God, these kids!” type comments.

I was stunned and should have asked him why he had said that. After he left, I ascertained that he had had the very same students the day before – yes, he was talking about the very students I found so pleasant and hard-working.

I wondered if it was me. What was I missing? Then I thought about the guy, an older man, though not as old as me. What were his attitudes toward children, toward life, toward teaching, toward people….? That might account for it.

Sad to say, many, many people would agree with him without even dealing with these students. It makes me wonder about all those complaints I read on fl teacher listservs about how bad the kids are, how inept, how unmotivated, and so on.

Somewhere in all this, there certainly is change. I would love to discuss that, but on the listservs, in the face of the hammering these kids take, I wind up asking for specifics and sounding like a defender of bad behavior. One curious phenomenon is that people say kids nowadays are terrible compared to the way they were when the speaker was in school….. 50 years ago… 40 years ago…. 30 years ago….. 20 years ago…. 10 years ago… and I esp remember one guy only one year out of high school who returned, looked into my classroom, and muttered, “Kids these days”!!!! All of 8 months later, the whole bunch had gone to hell in a handbasket.

So I invite you to a real discussion, based on observation, evidence, fact, and a little reason.

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