Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Year 9 Metamorphosis

It seems that (in Queensland at least) year 9 is the age where students begin the year as fairly reasonable kids and gradually (by the end of term 1) morph into the most feral creatures you can imagine: 14 year olds!!

They argue, they whinge, they complain and they chat.  They worry and yell and cry and they have finally grasped sarcasm (much to the chagrin of their teachers and parents).  Parents who say they get barely a grunt out of their fourteen year old, should wear an invisibility cloak and sit up the back of the classroom for a day.  They will certainly be reassured that their child has not lost the ability to communicate.  Whether or not this is an intelligent level of communication is yet to be proven.  They do manage to interact with each other and they are quite adept at irritating their teachers, so perhaps they are capable of more. 

There is a tell tale sign of a teacher who has just finished attempting to  educate a group of these ferals.  Head banging!  That is (if I can invite you into the staff room for just a moment) the year 9 teacher on a break will enter the room head for the nearest blank bit of wall and start banging their head against it.  If a wall is not available they may choose to use their desk.  In some extreme cases, this head banging is also accompanied by tears and/or a muttered swear word or two.  This is an important ritual for the year 9 teacher to complete after each lesson in order to vent the frustration of spending time with 14 year olds.  A pat on the back, or a piece of chocolate will usually calm down the year nine teacher with relative ease.  If these basic remedies prove unsuccessful, there are other options.  You could try, prayer and medication (no that is not a typo).  Alternatively some choose to go down the route of addictive chemical intake such as coffee or other caffeine based beverages, alcohol or tobacco... be warned; these vices will stay with you well into your retirement!  

Now that we have a better understanding of "feral metamorphosis," it might be helpful to begin studying a possible cure or even preventative measure.  Most educators and even doctors believe that the year 9 "virus" eventually wears off, with a little patience and perhaps a lot of love!  It is also believed that this feralisation of the teenage population is unpreventable.  Some think that home school can (in some cases) prevent the illness from taking over the child, as it is aggravated by continued contact with other 14 year olds.  However, as with any viral infection, we must proceed with caution.  "Feral 14 year old" if not allowed to run its course can lead to more difficult diseases later on.  Symptoms of a caged "feral" can include, running away from adults, swearing without cause or discrimination, using illicit drugs (such as those used by misguided year 9 teachers), becoming attracted to the opposite (or sometimes the same) sex, failing grades and an over attentiveness to banal technology.  It is noteworthy that some of these symptoms may arise within pre-teen students and even "late-bloomers."  Again, proceed with caution at this stage.  

Some teachers assert that on a case by case basis and in specific situations, a feralised 14 year old can be tamed.  This takes experience and as a result some of these teachers have not actually tamed their students, but have in fact, lowered their standards of a "tamed feral."  They are correct in their belief that a small number of 14 year olds seem to have an immunity to the illness, while others are able to control their behaviour for small amounts of time (usually no more than a few hours). However, it is important not to let one's guard down when dealing with these feisty creatures.  Legend has it, they can turn at any moment!

In case you haven't worked it out... I met my year 9 class yesterday!