One of the reasons I love working with middle school students is the ability to treat every day as an experiment in psychology and the social sciences. Apparently being in purgatory leads to some pretty interesting interactions among the inmates. I was rather accustomed to my 6th grade idiosyncrasies since they were my clientele for the past three years. In case you weren’t aware, that’s where the boys still want to bring toys to school and the girls are exceedingly mean to each other while wearing way too much make-up. You spend the year wanting the boys to mature up and the girls to turn into human beings. Done right, second semester is amusing and enjoyable.
Eighth grade has been a huge leap for me. The learning curve steep and rocky. While the girls have matured and mellowed (for the most part, but not completely), the boys are just bizarre and alien. I have small gangs of boys who have taken it upon themselves to act like complete boobs and target anyone they feel they can. They dress alike, huddle to discuss what’s next, and emulate each others’ hair and actions. It’s a mach 10 bromance with elements of A Clockwork Orange.
You’d think that the girls, having bypassed this stage by now, would simply ignore the budding psychopaths. Alas, the answer is no. In fact, since the boys seem to have captured the school by the short and curlies, we’re all at their mercy. Therefore the girls have opted to align themselves with the most prominent groups who have the “social currency” at the school. These are the boys who are pretty untouchable. They might be rocking 15 referrals, but they skate just at the border so there’s no real reason to punish them. Besides, they’re cute. Plus, you know, they’re boys.
Yes, I know. I was in eighth grade once myself. We girls were sacrificed due to the favoritism shown to the teacher’s pet boys. Funny how things don’t change.
Yet with all that, I can’t get my girls to consider the consequence of their actions. Some girls “carry” the boys’ homework so they don’t have to. These girls are also, I believe, doing the boys’ homework as well. Yet, since I can’t prove it, it continues. The boys don’t like to take notes so the girls do. They share their notes because they boys can’t be bothered to copy them. The girls will let the boys push them out of line, push ahead of them, pick the best seats, and even use them then not talk to them. Each time it’s acceptable.
It’s killing me.
There’s nothing I can do.
I can only hope things change.
When did we stop teaching our girls to be feminists?
When did being a girlfriend become the most important thing you could be?
Why do we teach girls to do everything for boys?
Why, why, why indeed.