As I was walking around second hour today, I noticed a student had written, in all caps, “STUDY AP SETS” on the homework assignment they had just received.
They have an AP Set Quiz tomorrow.
I know most of these students don’t share my absurd passion for rates of change and my undeniable love of calculus.
And yet they throw themselves into this like it’s everything.
I’m tearing up writing these words…
Maybe that’s because I keep seeing posts about how millennials–the generation I teach–are lazy; about how they want instant results and immediate gratification.
Are we so sure about this?
The kids who spend all day in a classroom, all afternoon on the field, and all evening at work, and then still go home to do what they demanded of themselves twelve hours previously: study AP Sets.
Are we talking about the same generation?
Because I see kids who are determined to break the cycle of poverty by studying rigorous topics in high school like calculus and chemistry and physics and literature.
I see kids who deal with parents who come home in a drunken rage yet still feel disappointed with their 89 on the last unit test, because they demand excellence from themselves, even though that excellence is far from modeled at home.
I see kids who come from a family that has never spoken English and yet these same kids come to my class and bravely try to learn a different foreign language (calculus) in an already new tongue.
I see kids whose parents have passed away who wait patiently for me to come answer their questions…when they’ve already waited so long for unanswered questions.
I get the posts. I do. I’m not naive: I’m around teenagers all day for one hundred seventy-nine days of the year. I know their weaknesses; trust me on that.
But maybe instead of calling out their weaknesses, we should be celebrating their triumphs.
Maybe we should recognize that their upbringing–their world–is different from ours.
Maybe we should try to understand our differences and help each other through them.
Any relationship that only nags on the negatives dies.
But relationships that focus on and encourage the good flourish.
It’s up to you what kind of relationship you want with millennials.
I choose one of hope and mutual understanding.
I choose to see the best, as I hope they do for me.