Every year there are milestones when you stand back and realise why teaching is such an incredible career to be in. Over the past couple of days our Grade 12s have been spending their last few lessons in school before they face the demands of their final exams. This has included various celebrations of their time at Greenfield Community School and yesterday saw them dressed in gowns, mortar boards and sashes for official and informal photos. At times like these it is natural for teachers to stand back and look at students they have known for years feeling a hint of sadness that they are leaving but also feeling great pride in what these young people have become.
As the students stood for official photos and gathered in groups of friends for informal pictures I couldn’t help feeling incredibly impressed by them. Having only joined GCS last August I cannot claim to have played much of a part in the success of these young people as they have moved through the school, but what I do know is what a fine group they are.
Sadly, adults too often look at young people and criticise them. This can be seen throughout history. In Ancient Greece 2400 years ago Socrates is quoted as saying “The children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants of their households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up dainties at the table, cross their legs, and tyrannize their teachers.”
In the 1600s Robert Russell wrote in A Little Book For Children and Youth … I find by sad Experience how the Towns and Streets are filled with lewd wicked Children, and many Children as they have played about the Streets have been heard to curse and swear and call one another Nick-names, and it would grieve ones Heart to hear what bawdy and filthy Communications proceeds from the Mouths of such…
Similar quotes spread through history and sadly continue today. Young people today are still being described as lazy and rude and I regularly hear stories about how they waste their time on video games or their phones. Here in Dubai, too often, I have heard that the young people are ‘entitled’ and too mollycoddled to care about the world around them and their futures.
This concerns me greatly. Too often, we adults forget what we were like. Looking back, I remember sitting in lessons seeing appalling behaviour and I was a lazy teenage boy. Where I lived, young people had easy access to damaging substances and I don’t recall any sense of social responsibility or respect; and I was very much brought up by caring parents, went to a good school and lived in a decent area of town.
As I stood and watched our Grade 12 it impressed on me how they are a credit to a great generation. A generation that is more socially aware, more respectful and healthier than mine was, indeed probably more so than any generation in history. They are students who care about the world around them, have a keen sense of injustice and want to do something about it. They are incredibly keen to succeed and work hard to do so and are the best educated in all of history. Yesterday I took some of Grade 11 parents through the enormous list of deadlines, both academic and university related, that their children face in the next year. As I look at the Grade 12 who are leaving this week I am incredibly impressed that they have come through this tough year and done so with a maturity and focus that I could never have maintained at their age.
When I look around the world I see many challenges and opportunities. Challenges involving things like environmental collapse, population pressure and the need to developing an open and tolerant culture in our global society. Opportunities offered by the explosion new technologies, globalisation and improved health and education. As I watch our Grade 12, marking the end of their time at Greenfield Community School, I find myself filled with a tremendous feeling of hope for the future. I am convinced that whatever they face this generation and these specific students are well prepared to meet the challenges and seize the opportunities and continue to make the world a better place to be.