8. July 2008 09:30

Middle Schoolers

by Dr. Rick
A middle school principal once described a typical early adolescent for me. “A middle schooler is a kid who runs wherever he’s going, and when he gets there, he hits someone,” he said. We were standing in the chaotic halls during a change of classes and I was wishing I could soak up a mere fraction of the energy that surrounded me.

It takes a special person to teach preadolescents, someone who can see the potential in awkward, fidgety, unattractive kids (oh, face it, they are!), sort of like the person who can walk into a “fixer upper” house and see it as the sleek and elegant place it will become.

Middle school is the time of potential. A place of ugly ducklings. They’ll become magnificent swans soon enough, in their own ways, but right now it sure helps to see the potential.

It’s a particularly tough place for many kids. Especially the ones who genuinely enjoy learning new things. Maybe they’re one of the rare “gifted,” those kids for whom knowledge, skills, themes, and concepts come quickly and with humbling precocity. Or maybe they’re one of those cooperative, inquisitive, delightful, and eager-to-please students who genuinely enjoy learning.

In elementary school, most kids are enthusiastic about learning. Everything is new for them, and their wide eyes and enthusiasm perk up the place. About grade four, especially for boys, they begin to see other things that interest them way more than what they learn in school. Reading decreases, so do grades.

By middle school, maybe age eleven or so, it’s “cool” to look uninterested in school. For those kids who still enjoy the school experience, even those rare “gifted” kids, it’s a tough time. Soon they become gifted at hiding their giftedness or at least their uncool interest.

Next up, I’ll explore the middle school mindset further…



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About Dr. Rick

Richard E. Bavaria, Ph.D., has nearly forty years of education experience, in both the public and private sectors, including classroom teaching, administration and more than a decade with Sylvan Learning. 

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