Friday, January 05, 2007

Rethinking Middle School

If you have seen the faces of new middle school students upon their initial arrival at school that dreadful first day, you will have seen that they seem like deer caught in headlights! After a day of hearing unending rules and regulations, struggling to remember locker combinations, getting lost in vast hallways, and searching in vain for a familiar face in the cafeteria, many students come away with the impression that they, like Odysseus, have been cursed!

All that was once familiar and comfortable in the elementary school has been swept away by the violent wind and waves of the middle school. This is how the adolescent journey of self-discovery begins. Young people face a barrage of assaults, either from circumstances or other people, as they go through their school years—assaults that could easily make them lose heart and fall into negativity and cynicism. Challenges such as teasing, bullying, and relationship problems are often viewed by adults as nothing more than a part of going through this life-stage. But the adolescents who are experiencing these problems see them in a way that is much more dramatic and raw. We would do well to start trying to see their trials through their eyes.


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