Ring the bells, break out the bubbly and drink a toast to those wonderful teenagers who brighten our days, encourage and energize us with their goodness. Yes, the world is full of them, but they go unnoticed all too often. They are often not naughty or brilliant enough to attract our attention. There is an awful lot of humanity between the 10% who excel and the 10% who torment. All too often society pre-occupies itself with these two extremes; but neither fame nor failure really defines who we are.
Let’s not get sidetracked! How do you recognize these teens? They are comfortable in their own skins, routinely polite and pleasant, loyal, great team members, friendly and possessing their own sense of humour. They are more together than you and I would believe and are waiting to make their mark in their own individual way. They are open to suggestion and crave your interest in the small parts of their everyday lives.
A particularly obnoxious teenager spoke harsh truth into my life one day. He spat out in class one day “Sir, you are only interested in the really good and really bad teenagers and that is so few of us.” Ouch! And again, ouch! I spluttered my defence, but if truth be told he was largely right. Both fame and failure are fickle and seldom define us.
Mr and Miss Average are everything but; they just require a little more effort to get under their skin. Every staff room has a gaggle of teachers who are brilliant with the “average” kids. They don’t get the accolades, but are often the true heroes.
Catch teenagers being nice, being friendly, being real and compliment them enthusiastically. Reward them with your friendship and approval. Tell them that it is OK to be who they are; no, on second thoughts, that it is wonderful to be who they are.
Written by Gavin Fish, Deputy Head, Fish Hoek High School