I’ve been feeling really old this week. More than usual. And it has nothing to do with the fact that the realisation of being well and truly in middle age has dawned. It also has nothing to do with the fact that the ‘kids’ I taught in South Africa now have their own kids going to high school. Although, it does have something to do with high school kids.
Last week was, for many schools, the final week for the senior students. The time, one would think, where they were eager to glean some final pearls of wisdom from their sages. The time when they would spend moments in quiet contemplation, reminiscing about the thirteen years of schooling that were coming to an end, the beginning of a new chapter. The time where they might present the school with a token of their appreciation and the school feels emptier for the loss of the richness they brought.
What really happens is a far cry from that. The legacy many Year 13 students want to leave is one of outrage and destruction. They do ‘pranks’. This in itself is nothing new. The scent of freedom after thirteen years in a regimented system has often resulted in water being sprayed, eggs being thrown, a teacher’s Mini being lifted up by four burly students and placed in an impossible location. The only people who knew about it were those involved and perhaps a few who saw the sneaky pictures that were circulated two weeks later after the spool had been developed.
The difference this year is the degree to which students are prepared to degrade themselves, with the sure and certain knowledge that whatever they do will be shared on social media. One group of girls who unwittingly threw down the gauntlet, stripped off and drove around naked.
And so, of course, some of our students had to strip off and run around the school. And now I’m really going to sound like a granny – don’t they have any self-respect? Don’t they realise that the pictures posted online will never go away?
I think I’m just too old for this shit.