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Thursday, March 24, 2011

Students Speak - "What Adults Don't Know About Us."

Several students at E. O. Smith High School were recently invited to do this - "Tell adults what you feel they DON'T know about you."  Here is what they said.  (Make sure to read all the way to the bottom of this.)

WHAT ADULTS DON’T KNOW

  • We are aware of things bigger than ourselves.
  • Adults cannot remember the sensation of discovery that comes with experiencing everything for the first time.
  • We don’t do sports for fun—but to please our parents and to keep the door open.
  • Sometimes it seems like you try and try and try and TRY! But .
  • Schedules separate families; there’s no time for anything. I just do what I have to do in the moment.
  • They don’t realize how stressful it is to always do your best, because if you don’t you’re always looked at as a failure.
  • They don’t realize how hard it is to deal with many different teachers. Parents complain about their one boss.
  • Adults don’t know how tired teens are of the world.
  • My peers won’t care that I have a stain on my shirt or that my socks don’t match.
  • Adults say we have thriving social lives, but between our school work and family requirements, we have no social life at all.
  • Sometimes we mean a lot more than what we say.
  • Teens have a better self-awareness than adults perceive we have.
  • We don’t hate everything.
  • Empathy helps me more than Sin(x+y)=Sin(x)cos(y) , etc.
  • We like to talk about our day.
  • Most of the time we’re actually listening to what parents are saying; we retain everything said in their lectures.
  • We know your expectations so when we fail we stick to ourselves and put so much pressure on ourselves to make you happy; you just don’t see it.
  • The pressure of the “future” is much greater to us than a grown adult.
  • We talk about, and complain about, each other all the time.  Everyone does it—including teachers.
  • Teenagers want to be responsible AND irresponsible.
  • Our day doesn’t end when we get home.
  • We are grateful.
  • Teens want to reach adulthood, but don’t want to leave behind childhood.  (Teens have jobs, yet have memorized a Disney movie theme song).
  • Teens want freedom to make their own decisions, but by restricting freedom, it becomes more desirable and only increases the desire for it.
  • Kids do not like to read. Kids don’t like to read not because it isn’t fun, but because they are quizzed and then tested on the material.  The fun gets sucked out of reading.
  • Kids don’t like eye contact but are terrified of eye contact with adults.
  • They want to be able to talk about those things we can’t talk about without getting into trouble, without being judged.
  • We really could handle much harder work; we just haven’t received it yet.
  • Teenagers are confused. We’re between being children and being adults, having time for fun and stressing about school and between rebelling against our parents and loving them at the same time.  Balance is a lot harder than it seems.
  • Don’t push the “college” thing too early.
  • Teens want to ‘connect’ with parents—they may say that they don’t, but parents need to give teens more leeway, and let them show their parents what they enjoy.
  • Not EVERYONE  is friends with or likes your child.
  • We’re aware of problems in the household. Many parents try to shield their children if bad news has come, but we can feel the unrest in the miasma of the house. We feel it when something is wrong.
  • Teens are constantly being accused of being selfish and immature, but being told that just frustrates us more and forces us to act more child-like.
  • Your child needs more family bonding time.
  • Your child bottles his emotions.
  • Most of the time when we lie, it’s so we don’t hurt anyone; because we care too much, not because we don’t care at all.
  • Most fights between parents and teens are from parents underestimating the maturity level of their teen and therefore degrading their feeling of self-worth.
  • Your parents say “I know how you feel” or that I’ve been through everything you’re currently going through”.  They haven’t. Everyone is different.
  • Teenagers, no matter how independent they act, always desire attention from their moms and dads.
  • They have selective hearing—they hear what they want to. 
  • If I could run around with little kids all day instead of going to school, I’d do it in a heartbeat.
  • I love Art, not homework.
  • We want to talk to you and tell you all about our days. We want to share things with you, but sometimes we just can’t, or you make it so we can’t.
  • We don’t complain to annoy you or to seem ungrateful. We complain to get you to ask us questions about what we are going through—it is for positive attention from you, as parents.
  • Just because you were an unruly teen, doesn’t mean we are.
  • Part of the reason we don’t do well in school is because it’s boring and irrelevant to our lives, the more personal the more interesting.
  • Teens understand when a parent or person is phony. It’s really annoying because it is almost as if the parents don’t know they are.
  • We like to play out scenarios in our heads, over and over—such as conversations, or someone’s reactions.
  • We talk about the same things and repeat it over and over because we think it will fix it, solve it, make it happen, erase it, etc.
  • Sometimes our parents really drive us mad from the simplest things.  For example, we get irritated even if they say ‘hi’, or ask how our day was. By your asking, we don’t want to anymore.
  • We want help with what we are going through, but are too afraid to ask for it.
  • Teens want parents who can understand what they are going through.
  • We are exposed to more things than you think; we can’t be sheltered forever—but sometimes we WISH we could be sheltered forever.
  • You may say we don’t know what ‘work’ is, that we don’t have a job so we don’t know what it’s like to be in your shoes. But we do—school is work!
  • Doodling doesn’t mean I’m not paying attention.
  • I’m constantly observing—whether you’re wearing different shoes or talking in a different tone.  I notice.
  • They hate when you use ‘cool’ words in excess. It’s really embarrassing. 
  • They hate when you tell them something they clearly already know.
  • We love you but we may not like you.
  • We may pretend not to care, but we want your respect.
  • The social aspect of school usually takes priority over academic. We learn more from friendships and socializing than we learn from textbooks and lectures.
  • We drink, smoke, and have sex. Don’t ever say, “Oh, my kid isn’t doing that.”  Don’t be naïve.
  • Not everyone drinks, smokes and has sex. Don’t be presumptuous. We aren’t all bad kids.
  • We hate being grouped and labeled. Yes, we can be grumpy and lazy, but most of the time we are nice people and we hate the negative connotation that comes with the word “teenager.”
  • We hate it when parents compare them to others.
  • We hate it when adults say “you know everything, of course”.  Let us argue our point, for god’s sake.
  • We love to look at our baby pictures because it brings back memories and shows how innocent we were.
  • Teens know that 99% of the time parents are right about everything. But teens don’t want to admit it because it’s embarrassing and not cool to have your parents be right.

What do YOU have to say?  Powerful?  Surprising? Hurtful?  Helpful?

They're certainly being honest.

I wonder - is there anything that kids should know about adults that you feel they DON'T know?

Email your comments to dmelody@eosmith.org.  Your comments will remain confidential. Or, if you wish, post a comment below that you care to own.  Email responses will be published in the same manner as viewed above.

6 comments:

  1. Great listing of feedback...kids have a lot of great things to say. I'd love to see more of this type of thing.

    ReplyDelete
  2. These are great reminders that their perceptions are not always ours!

    ReplyDelete
  3. I appreciate that students wrote this...

    It is nice to know that they will give more than a glimpse into their worldview.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Doug,

    Absolutely fascinating. I counted 70 responses and its unclear whether you picked 69 or if this is comprehensive of all responses received.

    And the responses of course are anecdotal so that introduces a second grain of salt in reading too much into what we're seeing.

    But I decided to categorize the responses this way:

    Self: (23)

    * Your child bottles his emotions.
    * Sometimes it seems like you try and try and try and TRY! But .
    * They don’t realize how stressful it is to always do your best, because if you don’t you’re always looked at as a failure.
    * My peers won’t care that I have a stain on my shirt or that my socks don’t match.

    * If I could run around with little kids all day instead of going to school, I’d do it in a heartbeat.
    * Doodling doesn’t mean I’m not paying attention.
    * I’m constantly observing—whether you’re wearing different shoes or talking in a different tone. I notice.
    * Teens are constantly being accused of being selfish and immature, but being told that just frustrates us more and forces us to act more child-like.
    * We love to look at our baby pictures because it brings back memories and shows how innocent we were.

    * We are aware of things bigger than ourselves.
    * We don’t hate everything.
    * Teens have a better self-awareness than adults perceive we have.
    * Sometimes we mean a lot more than what we say.

    * We like to play out scenarios in our heads, over and over—such as conversations, or someone’s reactions.
    * We talk about the same things and repeat it over and over because we think it will fix it, solve it, make it happen, erase it, etc.
    * They hate when you tell them something they clearly already know.

    * We want help with what we are going through, but are too afraid to ask for it.
    * We are exposed to more things than you think; we can’t be sheltered forever—but sometimes we WISH we could be sheltered forever.

    * Most of the time when we lie, it’s so we don’t hurt anyone; because we care too much, not because we don’t care at all.
    * Teenagers want to be responsible AND irresponsible.
    * We drink, smoke, and have sex. Don’t ever say, “Oh, my kid isn’t doing that.” Don’t be naïve.
    * Not everyone drinks, smokes and has sex. Don’t be presumptuous. We aren’t all bad kids.
    * We hate being grouped and labeled. Yes, we can be grumpy and lazy, but most of the time we are nice people and we hate the negative connotation that comes with the word “teenager.”

    And once we do that some interesting stuff emerges.

    78% respond as the editorial 'we', either someone who is invested in the social identity or speaking in a democratic union out of fear or spokesperson leadership.

    10% respond as 'I', a person who has become.

    and 13% respond as though they are disengaged "They", a number slightly higher than our dropout rate.

    When we look at the introspective "self" responses (33%), we see our students talking about stress, the remorse of not having enough childhood (this corresponds to Finland's experience of not starting "school" until age 7), failure, fear, unrealistic expectations, and having to deal with an absolute moral framework that is so uncompromising that one confronts failure rather than mistake.

    When we examine what they say about school, we again see stress, boredom, and a curriculum that bleaches out any love of learning (its unconscionable that we are killing the love of reading).

    And the comments about doodling and art as being a sanctuary from school, that the students are far more forgiving than the parents or the system ("matching socks"), I think are notable and consistent with some of what we've observed in our experience.

    Anyway, word association counts make for interesting clusters of information - love, hate, tired, stress, and so on.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Due to space restrictions, I'll post the rest of my categorizations individually.

    Adults/parents: (24)

    * Your parents say “I know how you feel” or that I’ve been through everything you’re currently going through”. They haven’t. Everyone is different.

    * Your child needs more family bonding * You may say we don’t know what ‘work’ is, that we don’t have a job so we don’t know what it’s like to be in your shoes. But we do—school is work!
    time.

    * We may pretend not to care, but we want your respect.
    * Most of the time we’re actually listening to what parents are saying; we retain everything said in their lectures.
    * We are grateful.
    * Teenagers, no matter how independent they act, always desire attention from their moms and dads.

    * We love you but we may not like you.
    * Just because you were an unruly teen, doesn’t mean we are.
    * Teens understand when a parent or person is phony. It’s really annoying because it is almost as if the parents don’t know they are.
    * Teens want parents who can understand what they are going through.

    * Adults don’t know how tired teens are of the world.
    * We hate it when parents compare them to others.
    * We hate it when adults say “you know everything, of course”. Let us argue our point, for god’s sake.
    * Teens know that 99% of the time parents are right about everything. But teens don’t want to admit it because it’s embarrassing and not cool to have your parents be right.
    * We don’t do sports for fun—but to please our parents and to keep the door open.

    * Adults cannot remember the sensation of discovery that comes with experiencing everything for the first time.
    * Teens want freedom to make their own decisions, but by restricting freedom, it becomes more desirable and only increases the desire for it.

    * We know your expectations so when we fail we stick to ourselves and put so much pressure on ourselves to make you happy; you just don’t see it.
    * They have selective hearing—they hear what they want to.
    * Teens want to ‘connect’ with parents—they may say that they don’t, but parents need to give teens more leeway, and let them show their parents what they enjoy.
    * We don’t complain to annoy you or to seem ungrateful. We complain to get you to ask us questions about what we are going through—it is for positive attention from you, as parents.
    * Sometimes our parents really drive us mad from the simplest things. For example, we get irritated even if they say ‘hi’, or ask how our day was. By your asking, we don’t want to anymore.

    * We’re aware of problems in the household. Many parents try to shield their children if bad news has come, but we can feel the unrest in the miasma of the house. We feel it when something is wrong.
    * Most fights between parents and teens are from parents underestimating the maturity level of their teen and therefore degrading their feeling of self-worth.

    ReplyDelete
  6. More:

    Time: (6)

    * Schedules separate families; there’s no time for anything. I just do what I have to do in the moment.

    * Adults say we have thriving social lives, but between our school work and family requirements, we have no social life at all.
    * The pressure of the “future” is much greater to us than a grown adult.

    * Our day doesn’t end when we get home.

    * Teens want to reach adulthood, but don’t want to leave behind childhood. (Teens have jobs, yet have memorized a Disney movie theme song).
    * Teenagers are confused. We’re between being children and being adults, having time for fun and stressing about school and between rebelling against our parents and loving them at the same time. Balance is a lot harder than it seems.


    Schools/teachers: (9)


    * I love Art, not homework.
    * Empathy helps me more than Sin(x+y)=Sin(x)cos(y) , etc.

    * Don’t push the “college” thing too early.
    * You may say we don’t know what ‘work’ is, that we don’t have a job so we don’t know what it’s like to be in your shoes. But we do—school is work!

    * We talk about, and complain about, each other all the time. Everyone does it—including teachers.
    * Kids do not like to read. Kids don’t like to read not because it isn’t fun, but because they are quizzed and then tested on the material. The fun gets sucked out of reading.

    * We really could handle much harder work; we just haven’t received it yet.
    * Part of the reason we don’t do well in school is because it’s boring and irrelevant to our lives, the more personal the more interesting.

    * They don’t realize how hard it is to deal with many different teachers. Parents complain about their one boss.


    Social/Communication: (7)

    * They want to be able to talk about those things we can’t talk about without getting into trouble, without being judged.
    * They hate when you use ‘cool’ words in excess. It’s really embarrassing.
    * Not EVERYONE is friends with or likes your child.

    * We like to talk about our day.
    * Kids don’t like eye contact but are terrified of eye contact with adults.
    * We want to talk to you and tell you all about our days. We want to share things with you, but sometimes we just can’t, or you make it so we can’t.
    * The social aspect of school usually takes priority over academic. We learn more from friendships and socializing than we learn from textbooks and lectures.


    One correction to the original post. There are 69 responses total.

    ReplyDelete

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