(I’m referring to teaching, of course, although the same is true for living through it, if only because it’s half as long. And I get to still say junior high instead of middle school because ours is still only a two year school.)
I ended my previous post by saying that one of the biggest eye-openers of my student teaching experiences way back in the day was that I decided that I liked teaching junior high better.
I know that high school teachers (do any of your kind stop in here?) will scoff, and non teachers might not see that they are two different species, but I like the junior high animal better. Obviously, in public school, the range of diversity is even greater than that of dogs.
(Aside: I read somewhere that there is more variation in the size, shape, and abilities of dogs than in any other species. Update: I guess it only takes the flipping of a few genes to cause such variations in dogs, which is why it has been so easy for humans to breed so many sizes and shapes is such a relatively short time.)
Anyway, with so many variations in (and intermingling of ) the species, there will obviously be as many exceptions as rules in a discussion such as this, but conceding that point wouldn’t be any fun, would it?
So without (much) further ado, here’s why teaching junior high is better than teaching high school. I was going to go with the old David Letterman Top Ten shtick, but with these kinds of things, I’m never sure how many I have until I get started.
1. Teenage girls. Mercurial is such a groovy word. Dictionary.com says the definition of mercurial is:
1. changeable; volatile; fickle; flighty; erratic.
2. animated; lively; sprightly; quick-witted.
I know, technically they become teenagers in junior high, but we all know that most don’t hit their true teen years until the Lord of the Flies island that is high school. Wikipedia says there is a Filipino movie adaptation of the book that has a female character. If there were girls on that island…OMG…those boys would be wishing there really was a beast.
2. Freshmen. I know the roots of the word sophomore mean “wise fool.” Ninth graders don’t even get the sarcastic description of being wise. Fresh is an understatement. And don’t get me started on the “men” part. I think we ought to go back to the old school 7-9 junior high. Now get off my lawn.
3. When you (the teacher) get a haircut, the middle schoolers (ok, it sounds better than junior-highers) say, “You got a haircut.” High schoolers smirk.
4. That high school smirk. And that eye roll. And that deep sigh thing.
5. Teenage boys. Back in the day, the bass player in my band used to say, “No brain, no pain.” Nobody lives that credo better than a high school boy. The middle schoolers at least usually still have mom yanking them back to reality now and then.
6. More restrictive dress codes. See numbers 1 and 5.
7. The literature. I’m sorry (actually, I’m not really), but after ninth grade and To Kill a Mockingbird, it’s the vast wasteland of “the canon.” You got American literature with Hawthorne and Melville and other such blowhards, and God forbid if I got stuck with British lit. in 11th grade, or some AP lit. class with a batch of OCD grade grubbers. Wait, now I’m spilling over into number 8…
8. The grade pressure. At the junior high level, grades are about about avoiding trouble with mom, and making sure you still get to use your PlayStation or ride your skateboard. I taught juniors. I remember junior year under the collegiate microscope. Not fun.
Ok. This list is starting to shape up to be more Why-Teaching-High-School-Sucks than Why-Junior-High-Rules. It just sort of happened. Next post, I will try to enumerate in a more positive way, why teaching middle school is just…more…fun.
(I only have 10 days of summer left. Ouch. I had better squeeze another nap in. Also, my offer still stand for invites to Google+. Just click here if you want in.)