Seventh Grade Cynicism

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                      February 1, 2017

                                 

I’m becoming a seventh grade substitute teaching fixture. Two more days this past week to follow closely on the heels of the three weeks of seventh social studies. I’m starting to begin sentences with “Dude!”, and trash-talk with seventh grade athletes about sports teams.

Dude! It is making me see things in new ways!

One of those “new views” is the unmistakable seasoning of cynicism amongst the young audience. Although they are not proficient in understanding politics they are cynical about politics. They’ve picked up on the unrest of the nation from the recent political campaign, and wrestle with the confusion of the allegations hurled from each side of the arena. Perhaps part of their misgivings grow out of a statement that they’ve been hearing for a long time; that we live in the best country in the entire world, and have the best governmental structure. They’ve been hearing that, but are wondering why the citizens of this best country spout so much venom at one another over politics?

In fact, much of seventh grade cynicism emerges in questions that begin with the word “Why?” They don’t quite get it! Of course, neither do I! I just try to look like I understand!

Their cynicism is a foggy picture that reflects their parents beliefs and unbeliefs. They’ve heard the resistance towards immigrants, the absurdness of building walls, the plight of the poor, the dangers of terrorism, and the 4,000 piece puzzle that’s a picture of health care and insurance.

Seventh graders have become cynical about the world so they turn their attention to their immediate situation and environment. Yes, they heard that the unemployment rate went up, but there’s a school sock hop this Friday night that needs their attention. They heard about a school shooting in Oklahoma, but the new Chick-Fil-A opened up down the street. The President is coming through town for a speaking engagement, but the seventh grader just realized that he forgot to put a pudding cup in his lunch bag!

Schools stress an understanding of what is going on in the world…and rightfully so…but thirteen year olds yield to what their friends think. Their cynicism makes them skeptical of pure motives. They live in a world of hidden agendas. If I cut my neighbor’s lawn because he’s out of town these newly-arrived teens are wondering why I did it? What am I getting out of it?

In essence, we have made them who they are. They are the “Mini-Me’s” of our lives!

Sounds hopeless. And yet, there are certain people that have the distinct privilege and opportunity to ground our young people in social responsibility, compassion, and lives rooted in principles and purpose. For example, as a middle school coach for close to twenty years I understand that my players look to me for guidance, but also what my life conveys is truly important. Last week I told my 8th Grade basketball team that any detentions or behavior problems that require school administration involvement will automatically carry at least a one game suspension for the player. I told them that character is more important than athletic ability. I expect them to act responsibly and make wise decisions. I realize, on the other hand, that they are looking at me to make sure I’m acting responsibly and making wise decisions.

A few years ago I was camp pastor for a middle school church camp. One night we washed each other’s feet. It was a silent act. No words were said and it was strictly voluntary. For about thirty minutes, after I and another leader began the humble act, students would invite one another to the front and serve one another in a way that humbled the washer and honored the one whose feet were being washed.

In some ways that’s where we need to take seventh graders more often…to a place of service and humility. Dude! Wouldn’t that be awesome?

Explore posts in the same categories: children, Christianity, coaching, Freedom, Humor, Jesus, love, Nation, Parenting, Pastor, Story, Teamwork, The Church, Uncategorized, Youth

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

You can comment below, or link to this permanent URL from your own site.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: