In the latter minutes of the Luncheon hour today, I was asked by a colleague to give an earnest “talking-to” to a group of four male students that had behaved rather poorly in the Cafeteria and had been exceedingly disrespectful to the presiding teachers. The request, I admit, caught me a trifle off-guard… I have been employed at this school for barely a month, but it seems I have made a certain sort of impression.
The boys followed me to my classroom and I invited them to find a seat. Giggling and carping, they asked if they could sit on the floor – I assented, telling them that if they wished to “sit at my feet and learn” I would be glad to accommodate such a humble request. Obviously it was not the sort of reaction they are accustomed to, for they hesitated and looked at each other – downshifting from cocksure to unsure in span of seconds.
Not waiting for them to regain their composure of arrogant indifference (O, that strange emotional chemistry of modern American adolescence!), I launched my rhetorical attack upon their conduct. While I scarcely raised my voice over a conversational tone (though still domineeringly earnest), I deftly turned aside the pleas and pithy squabbles without slowing in my disputation upon the expectations of youths in a “civilized” society such as that in which we live.
I did not merely shout them down but aggressively engaged each appeal with an eviscerating rebuke that drew forth the poverty of their particular claims as well as rebutted their faulty revisions of the preceding events. When it was done, they were sullen and even somewhat shamefaced – either they had succumbed to my tenacity or, hopefully, they recognized the error of their ways… but I`m not counting on the latter.
Verily, these boys are strange creatures… willfully heedless and obdurately recalcitrant, and it appears as though they are proud to be thus. In their faces I see an almost complete lack of personal discipline, and a sickening sense of “playful” antagonism towards the concept of adult authority.
If children such as these are the future of this nation, than this nation has a grim future indeed.