Every year I teach a lot of different classes to a lot of different teenagers. Each class usually has it’s own challenges. Up to this year, the biggest challenge for me was the almost all boy classes. These boys (and usually one or two girls) are grouped together due to the subjects they chose – the easier, more hands-on type of subjects. So here you can already see that these kids just want to get through high school, and if they can make it difficult for people while they’re doing it, so much the better. They’re not interested in learning something and that makes it difficult to teach them anything.
This year I have a completely new challenge. An almost all girl class. I thought that after teaching several really challenging classes, an all girls class would be a blast. I was completely wrong. First of all, these girls were also grouped together due to the subjects they chose – also the easier subjects. They care most about their appearance and not so much about anything else. All the above I can deal with, but then there is the following: Not caring about each other’s feelings. Humiliating each other to gain popularity from the group. Deliberately excluding people from groups by telling them their not wanted there, and the list continues. Being a teacher in a South African public school, I’ve see a lot, but never something that resembles a movie elaborating the behaviour of American teenagers so much! (I hope this statement didn’t offend anyone.)
I want them to change, and I want to play a role in that change. That’s why I’m asking your help. How can you show them how to care, to not do something to someone else that you wouldn’t want them to do to you? How can you show them that beauty can only be seen when it’s accompanied by a pure heart, that “a candle doesn’t get dimmed by lighting another”? How can you get them to see the damage and hurt they bring to other people with their comments and gestures? How can they be taught the value of virtue?