A couple of posts back I posted about my daughter's teenage angst. I haven't been able to get that out of my mind because it reminded me of a book of illustrations I found in the library a few years ago by Greg Hildebrandt, the well-known Tolkien illustrator.
He said he painted a portrait of each of kids every three years of their childhood. I was shocked to see the pictures of his son Gregory. That's Gregory above at age...I'm guessing...nine or ten. He looks like an all American kid of his time, a cross between Tom Sawyer and the young Ray Bradbury.
A few years later, maybe at age 13 or 14 (I'm not sure) he painted his son again and look (above) how the picture turned out! Wow, what a difference! The teen Gregory looks full of self doubt and unfocused anger. Not only that but his face has morphed into something puffy and awkward...just like mine did at his age. Yikes! Just at the time of life when you're most concerned about your looks, nature deals you a bad hand.
Teenage years are full of depression and trauma and teens aren't generally fun to be around unless you're a teen yourself. In spite of that I sometimes think that if I were a full time teacher I'd still rather teach teens than anyone else. Maybe that's because teens are idealistic and philosophical and so am I, and I've discovered a couple of odd facts about teens that I've never seen in books.
The second fact is that that teens are often listening in class when you don't think they're listening. They can be passing notes, watching videos on their laptops or even sleeping but if what you say interests them, they'll remember it...or at least be interested in hearing it again.