I've had a couple of rather bad run-ins with teens lately, and honestly, I'm baffled. I'm trying to figure out if what I've witnessed is typical of teens, if they will grow out of it and become nice, productive people with social skills, and if the teens on here who generally seem so intelligent and well-spoken on these threads are really like this in real life, and why there's such a difference.
So the first incident was last weekend. I went home for Easter, and on Saturday my mom and I went ice-skating at the local rink, something we used to do when I was a kid and that I really enjoy. For the first couple of hours, everything was fine. There was a group of teens there and occasionally one of them would do something annoying/stupid but nothing that was any big deal.
However, towards the end of the public session, the rink monitor who was keeping an eye on things on the ice decided to wander off since there weren't that many people left, and pretty soon these teens got really rowdy, mostly doing stuff like scooping up the ice and throwing it at each other and scraping their skates down in the ice to make more snow to throw around. Which is a big no-no - the Zamboni can't fill those holes, and it creates tripping hazards for other skaters. But other than that, it wasn't that they were doing anything horrible or dangerous. It was just annoying and immature and disruptive to the rest of us who were still trying to skate. But I didn't want to seem like the uptight asshole-ish adult who can't have any fun, so I didn't say anything.
The second incident was more unsettling, I think. I was asked at work to organize a field trip for a group of high school students interested in a particular career field that I work in. They were going to come to my organization and spend a couple of hours getting a tour and hearing from people who did what they wanted to do. So, this was scheduled for yesterday, and the students came. I was warned that these kids were not advanced students and that there might be some minor behavior issues.
But what I witnessed wasn't exactly a behavior issue like talking out of turn - it was just apathy and boredom. Even though these kids were hearing from people and seeing things related to what they supposedly want to do when they finish school, they had blank expressions on their faces the whole time. The only question they asked was "do you guys have any vending machines in this building?" When the people talking to them would make a joke, they'd just stare back. It was a really awkward experience and frustrating for me, because I had spent a lot of time planning this trip, and the people talking to the kids and showing them around were people who had taken time out of their day and really made an effort to give these kids a cool experience. And what they were saying and showing everyone was interesting. I don't know how it could've been more interesting. But these kids just were not into it at all. I got the impression that they were not very intelligent and had no social skills on top of it. There's another group coming next week, and I'm not looking forward to it at all.
So, what I'm wondering is, is what I witnessed typical of teens? Is this just how they are? Do you guys think that teens in general can and do outgrow this kind of behavior? Do those of you who are teens think that this behavior is fine, and I should get over myself? Is there a way for teachers and other adults to get through to teens and not receive a blank stare in response?
Because I know it's only been a few years since I was a teen, but honestly I don't ever remember acting like this. I feel like I came out of the womb with more social skills and maturity than what I witness in a lot teens when I see them in public. And I'm not saying that to be snotty, that's just genuinely how I remember things. I don't ever remember a time when an adult would speak to me and I would just stare back at them, or when someone would make a joke and I wouldn't at least laugh a little to be polite. No wonder I didn't fit in when I was in elementary and middle school. And lest you guys start to think I hate all teens, last night I met a 15-year-old who I thought was very mature, interesting and articulate. She told me she didn't fit in at all either.