Shout about what makes you happy sad or mad... Have i become old before my time?

21st November 2008 at 00:00

After a few years of teaching I was enthralled by the colourful advertisements from the Training and Development Agency, full of pupils radiating youth like a cathode ray. The logic, I assumed, would be that being exposed to this overflowing fountain of youth every day should have made me likewise bursting with energy. But the truth is that while some pupils are full of energy, others are morose, filled with a slightly Kafka-esque brooding and have probably reached middle age at the same time as puberty.

Teacher training was an intensely emotional experience for me, and in many ways a recollection of my own school days as much as a farewell to them. The poignant thing is that, although you officially become old when you start teaching, it seems to happen without your consent. Stepping into the role of power seems to have distanced me from the next generation.

Without wanting to, I begin to generalise and hypothesise about young people based on my past experiences. This in itself is a crime.

So what is the defining moment of reaching that milestone in your mind? I believe that if you find yourself starting to rant, just a little, about the disparity between the youth of today and young people "in my day", then your biological clock is ticking too fast. For instance, on a bus in Newton Abbot the other day I note the antisocial madness of the children on board, and get irritated. One twerp is accusing another of being gay. Then I realise that not all of them are making a din. There are a few quiet ones who have to suffer this behaviour on every journey. The jury is still out on the true nature and extent of youth antisocial behaviour, and I feel like zipping my mouth closed before I even try to utter anything about the "youth of today". Every time I do it I age a few years

David Cox is a supply teacher in south Devon.

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