Sunday, November 13, 2011

Middle School Musings

Listening to the, "This American Life" broadcasts of their middle school radio series brought back a lot of memories of a time, though formative, easily forgotten. In any recounting of experiences, some points will match up in your memory of events, and some of course will not. For me, it was interesting that much of what I wouldn't have normally thought about if I tried to remember my middle school experiences came back to me in hearing these recordings.

In one 'chapter' they interview a number of students about their upcoming dance, and a teacher chaperoning the dance. They emphasized the peculiarity of having a dance for middle schoolers who generally aren't even dating and most likely have had few occasions to dance at all. I vaguely remember thinking, "Why are we doing this?" during my middle school dance.

In general, the majority of what stood out to me are (and it's not terribly original) challenges of fitting into a new play. Having just moved to the area, one of the students interviewed was having difficulties finding friends. He was so anxious about it he was throwing up regularly. To a lesser degree, I think it's similar for most middle school students. They're in a new school entirely different than the one they just spent six or so years at. In districts where middle school is only two years, you then have to do it all over again just as you get confortable. That's probably why high school freshmen usually look like deer caught in headlights.

One of the more poignant comments about what distinguishes middle school as a stage of life was one pointing to the newly formed self-reflective ability of that age group. Unlike younger kids, they're able to reflect on their actions, but they aren't yet cynical about it like high school kids often are. Therefore, they're more willing to experiment in life and enjoy doing so. Whether that's entirely accurate, it's a positive view worth keeping in mind.

1 comment:

  1. You bring up a good point about middle schoolers. Those couple years have been just referred to as awkward for me and many people I've talked to. I never thought about it as more of an experimental stage before high school. I just saw it as an wierd time where nothing I did seemed to be comfortable or correct. After observing middle school in my field work, and thinking back to it, I think you're completely right in that they are trying to figure out who they are, searching for the right group of friends or self image. Have you done any middle school field work yet? Is that where you got that great observation from?