Category Archives: Youth

Slow Progress

Positivity Link: Another fire rescue, but with a surprising hero.

Told you I was fairly disorganised: Saturday’s post has been missed. On the upside, it’s led me to realise that two posts in a row is not a good idea. Therefore, Progress Day will now occur on Sunday. Unfortunately, if you read this I must inform you that today’s post is very simple, lacks a ramble or a rant and is literally a summary of my personal progress and findings-out this week. It puts the “log” in blog. It’s Chuck without the Norris. It’s Boris Johnson with tidy hair.

And without further ado (if you still dare to read on):

  • It’s difficult not to feel like I’m moving backwards with school. About a month ago I let you lovely readers know how anxious I was about school. Surprisingly (well, to me) I’ve made quite a few friends, and I always have someone to talk to in and out of classes. I get along well enough with my teachers, most likely because 4 out of 5 of them are as crazy as me. My target grades are high. I no longer fall asleep upon arriving home out of exhaustion. Still, the workload gets me down. It feels like I plough through one pile of work only to emerge at the beginning of another. I guess they didn’t say that the transition between high school and college was hard for nothing.
  • My novel is going reasonably well. It might be ambitious (and crazy, what with all the complaining I’m doing already) but I’d like to have it finished before June 2013. Hopefully. I’m disorganised and I can be lazy, but I’m determined to finish the novel.
  • If you live in England, you might have heard of an event called Stoptober, which basically encourages smokers to give up smoking throughout the length of October. I don’t smoke, but I have given up on drinking Pepsi and Coke for the month (my family affectionately call me a coke-head, though it’s not a joke we make in public). I’m a week in, and just have…24 days to go. Jeez.
  • In looking for a good article about this post’s positivity link, I stumbled upon an white nationalist forum which referred to the heroic boy only as a jigaboo. If you’re not familiar with the word, it’s a derogative term for a black person. I won’t bother linking to the website because I don’t want to give them the attention. Slow progress. Slow progress indeed.

The Problem With Teachers

Positivity Link: Neighbour Saves Child from Fire

You, the only one at the back not with a hand up.

There is a problem with teachers. No, not that one. The problem with some teachers is one which is rather similar to the problem with students; they become too used to the standard role expected of them and dislike the learning and change that is also part of the job. There is the expectancy by the teachers that in a group of students, at least one will be a “bad apple”, and this always occurs. There is an expectancy in the new student body that somewhere in the maze of corridors and other teenagers, there will be a teacher who is laughably poor at their job. Lo and behold, we are never disappointed.

Most teachers are not like this. I am in college, which is Year 12 – 13 over here in England, and four out of five of my teachers are capable at their jobs. Good at lesson planning, good at getting to the point, even good at evoking interest from tired teenagers at 8:30 in the morning. They make you want to learn, which makes it easier to learn.

But there is the last teacher. The one who never plans a lesson, forgets that we are sixteen and not six, and wants to believe that they are always correct. The one ready to raise hell if they perceive even the slightest doubt as to the validity of their teaching method, not far removed from the pastor ready to lambast his population at the first doubt shown towards his interpretations. The one who, on the rare times they are able to connect to one student, spends the rest of the lesson re-attempting to relight that single spark of interest to the detriment of the rest of the class and the lesson.

You all remember that teacher.

The worst thing about them, though, is that they don’t stay in high school. You find them in your parents, your older siblings or relatives. They pop-up in university, and then in your workplace under the guise of your boss or colleague or that guy constantly standing at the water cooler who you aren’t even sure works there. Sometimes they become a nagging partner or precocious child. Either way it is the eternal teacher problem, where they must be right and you must be wrong, where it’s their way or the high way. The best way to combat it is to smile, nod, listen, and then dash away and learn an opinion unbiased by their or your own inexperience.

My teacher problem won’t solve itself. I’ve simply taken to reading ahead of topics and around the subject to make up for what we’re not being taught. I like the teacher. They try to be nice, and they’re generally harmless in their one-outfit wardrobe. They’re fascinated with the idea of my “exotic” family background and we generally get along well. However, when it comes to their job they’re not the best. We students recognise this. Other teachers have recognised this too, warning us that this particular teacher is an acquired taste. I’m afraid to say that with exams already looming after so short a period of teaching, that this taste is not likely to be acquired any time soon.

Fresh Starts

Don’t you just hate fresh starts? Or is it just me?

On Wednesday, I will be thrown into a new school to join the mass of hormone-driven young adolescents known as Year Twelve, a.k.a Senior Year if you’re American. 😉 Sure, I go along with a bunch of high school mates I’ve known for just under two years, but the majority of the student body will be strangers to me. There will be new teachers, a new floor plan to get used to, five lessons for me to scramble around finding, and glass doors to walk headfirst into (I almost always end up doing this in a new building). Most importantly, I will fail horribly at introducing myself.

I always feel incredibly helpless when I’m thrown into a new environment. The confidence I’m told to muster up never arrives. Does anyone else feel the same way, whether it be at a new school, workplace or town?

I’m very bad at meeting new people. I’m rather introverted, so I tend to be shy around people I don’t know. I do try to speak more, yet it rarely works. I’ve noticed that extroverts tend to start conversations by talking about some aspect of themselves, and I can’t do that well because I’ve always found talking about myself boring (and a bit narcissistic). I can’t start things off with my name, either, because people always mispronounce both my fore and surname. The first they never seem to hear properly, the second they notice is African and so they attempt to pronounce (I have never understood why) with some strange accent. They never get it right.

But perhaps I worry too much. Perhaps by some miracle someone might one day pronounce both names right; perhaps at the end of two years, someone might even be able to spell it correctly. Perhaps someone might find my oddness somewhat endearing, and maybe when I walk into that glass door, nobody will be around.

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Hopefully, school starting won’t disrupt to a great extent my ability to post frequently. I know I’ve been a bit sketchy during the past week just attempting to get ready for it, but the thing about the school period is that it tends to help me get organised, oddly enough.

The Problem With Teen Writers

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No, this post will not be a long complaint about how poor teenage writing irrevocably is. Though as a teenager, I can honestly say that a lot of it sucks. I’ve seen it. I’ve edited it. I’ve been there, though I can confidently say that I’ve moved on from that.

No, this post is about how the world sees teenage writers. In my previous posts, a great number of people reacted with surprise when they learnt that I was a sixteen-year-old girl.  I’m sure some people really think I’m some balding forty-year-old guy somewhere. Because people weren’t only shocked at my approach to the subject matter, they were shocked at the grammar, punctuation, and intelligence with which I wrote. I’m no super-genius, I await my GCSE results on Thursday with bated breath. So why is it so rare to find a teenager who can write well, and write intelligibly? Why is such a thing a shock to the masses? Why is it such a shock to me?

The answer is: I don’t know.

Teenagers aren’t stupid. The times may have changed, but we haven’t actively regressed in our intelligence. Even the advent of chat-speak hasn’t significantly impaired our ability to use the English language, because some of the smartest people in my school spL lyk dis and get A*s without a problem (then again, our grading system is suspect at the best of times). Yet if a ten-year-old starts to write a novel, and you compare their writing to the average nineteen-year-old’s, you would not be able to tell the difference. That isn’t a joke, I see this everyday. You’ve probably noticed it here on WordPress–many teenage bloggers do not have the faintest idea of how to construct a sentence in regards to proper grammar and punctuation. And you’ve probably noticed the same trend amongst some bloggers in their early twenties, who have left school and even gotten through university without learning to correct this problem.

So what do we do? Let me tell you.

The biggest insult you can give a writer is that they write like a teenage girl (or Stephanie Meyer, but then that’s the same thing). Yet good teenage writers do exist, like S.E. Hinton, Amelia Atwater-Rhodes, Helen Oyeyemi, and some people would add Christopher Paolini, though I personally don’t think that he is. Admittedly, these people seem to be the exception to the rule, and there still exists the stigma that all teenage writers are bad, which I discourages many young people from even trying to be better. But. There are blogs. And there are talented teenager bloggers out there, and websites dedicated to helping aspiring youth writers. There are even a few competitions for us to get involved in if one looks hard enough. So I suppose what I’m really trying to say is: next time you see a good teen blogger, give ’em a pat on the back or a word of encouragement. If you meet a kid who says they’d like to be an author one day, don’t laugh and suggest something more “practical” (God I hate that). Point them to a forum, or a to competition they can enter. And try not to strangle them when they say: “Thx, LOL!”