Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Tell me again why I teach middle school?

And the amusing part is that this story didn't even happen to me. From Joanne Jacobs' wonderful edublog (see my daily reading list), I discovered a telling article from the New York Times that illustrates everything that is wrong with today's youth and today's society.

A public library in Maplewood, New Jersey has had to close its doors every weekday afternoon because it can no longer tolerate the out-of-control behavior of the many middle schoolers who swarm there every day after school gets out. The New York Times is notorious for not letting you read its online articles without you having to register with their site first, so I will paste a few choice excerpts from the article. Otherwise, try your luck by clicking here.
Every afternoon at Maplewood Middle School’s final bell, dozens of students pour across Baker Street to the public library. Some study quietly. Others, library officials say, fight, urinate on the bathroom floor, scrawl graffiti on the walls, talk back to librarians or refuse to leave when asked. One recently threatened to burn down the branch library. Librarians call the police, sometimes twice a day.

This comfortable Essex County suburb of 23,000 residents, still proud of its 2002 mention in Money magazine on a list of “Best Places to Live,” is no seedy outpost of urban violence. But its library officials, like many across the country, have grown frustrated by middle schoolers’ mix of pent-up energy, hormones and nascent independence. (Welcome to my life! --Chanman)

Increasingly, librarians are asking: What part of “Shh!” don’t you understand?
Here's a shocker:
A backlash against such measures has also begun: A middle school in Jefferson Parish, La., that requires a daily permission slip for students to use the local public library after school was threatened with a lawsuit last month by the American Civil Liberties Union. (emphasis, mine).

Librarians and other experts say the growing conflicts are the result of an increase in the number of latchkey children, a decrease in civility among young people and a dearth of “third places” — neither home nor school — where kids can be kids.
Then we come to a quote from a crybaby defender of these young 'uns' boorish behavior:
Linda W. Braun, a librarian and professor who has written four books about teenagers’ use of libraries, said the students want only to be treated like everybody else.

“If there are little kids making noise, it’s cute, and they can run around, it’s O.K.,” Ms. Braun said of standard library operating procedure. “Or if seniors with hearing difficulties are talking loudly, that’s accepted. But a teen who might talk loudly for a minute or two gets in trouble.”

She added: “The parents don’t want them, the library doesn’t want them, so they act out.”
So to defend these adolescent hellions, this lady has to pick on toddlers and deaf/hearing-impaired old people. Those two groups don't know any better, these middle schoolers DO! And they want to "be treated like everybody else"? Like a friend of mine succinctly stated recently, the issue with middle schoolers is that they want to be treated like adults, but they still want act like children.

To end this string of excerpts, I conclude with a quote from a middle school student who essentially uses a form of blackmail-lite in his complaint about the library's new hours:
Outside the library, students who use it gave the new hours two thumbs down, way down.

“Kids will get into real mischievous activities” with the library closed, warned one teenager, Jonathan Brock, a student at the district’s alternative high school program.
No, we wouldn't want the kids to be so mischievous that a public library would have to be closed or anything like that.

Good Day to You, Sir

1 comment:

George said...

The key fact of the matter is lack of civility. Can you imagine the response of some to the demand to teach manners - why how barbaric of you!!!

I'm sick of it too. When it comes to civility I feel like I'm just trying to keep a sand dune in a neat little pile. Contrary to the movies, one person can't really influence them all that much, in a short period of time.

I had to really think about requiring my students of "color" to respond with "yes, sir"(the whole southern thing). My relationship with them has been so much better, but the civility is really lacking.

Half a dozen one way, half a dozen the other.