Sometimes we "old" (hey compared to them!) people have sort of a dim view of America's youth. To some, they seem shallow, spoiled, and just plain annoying. That all may be true of some teens, but I am here to say that the other kind exists as well. I know this may be a shocker, but there are teenagers out there who are smart, dedicated, courteous, and kind. What's my proof? Well, I could quote stats about volunteerism, school attendance, or psychological surveys, but I think a more concrete example may be found in my classroom.
Not long ago, I was away for a family wedding. When I got back, the kids greeted me with their usual enthusiasm (they have a lot) and then we got back to the business of running a classroom. One kid asked for a ruler, so I went back to my desk and opened the ruler drawer. Just then, all the kids jumped up from their desks and crowded around. I knew something was up, and sure enough, there was a wrapped package sitting in the drawer. This turned out to be a brand new music player.
It seems the kids remembered a conversation we had about music. They asked me what kind of IPOD I had, and I told them that I didn't have a fancy music player. I thought nothing of it at the time, but the kids remembered. They organized, campaigned while in other classes, and collected enough money to buy a Zune. One kid even had the task of asking my favorite color.
Now I know many people may miss the point in this story. This may sound like an example of over-privileged kids buying favor with their teacher, but that is really not what happened there. These kids were already doing great in terms of grades, and they really had no reason to offer any kind of bribe. They did this out of the kindness of their hearts, and that, not the tech toy, is what made such an impression on me.
P.S. Lest you worry about my professional morals, I did check with the Big Boss, and he said it was okay to keep the gift.