Sep 16, 2012
The Angry Young Man
One particular student is on my mind this week. He is in the back of my brain, nagging and pulling--like a thread that needs to be unknotted. He is an enigma to me because I have not yet seen that kernel of goodness that I can always see in every single teenager I meet. I know it's in there, but I haven't dug deep enough to find it yet.
He is angry. Oh, so very, very angry. As I try to teach the parts of speech he mutters under his breath, "Where's the real teacher. You ain't no real teacher." He tells me I'm ugly. "Stop talkin' to me. I don't want you talkin' to me." It goes on and on, day in day out.
Sometimes, though, he answers a question in class. He names a character from the book we're reading. He participates briefly. It is those moments that keep me going. I know he is in there. Somewhere. Trying to get out. There is a young man who wants to learn, who wants to care and be cared about. I know it.
Then it goes back to the muttering under his breath. Anger personified. Verbally vomiting negativity like he's been infected by a viral hatred.
You may ask, "How do you put up with that? Why would you want to work somewhere where a teenaged boy insults you day in and day out?" Some days I wonder. But most days I know...
I do what I do because children don't have a choice about what family they are born into. Children don't have a choice about how their parents treat them. I know that this boy learned his foulness from a rotten apple that did not fall far from the tree on which it grew. I know that when a young man is so skilled at issuing verbal abuse at such a young age, it can only be because he learned it at a younger age from someone else.
Is it too late to change the tide? Is it too late to teach him to be more positive? I honestly don't know. But I do know that I couldn't live with myself if I didn't try.