One thing is for sure, youth are receptive, fresh, and hopeful humans. The moment you teach them something and they notice that it works for them, takes them to new places, and teaches them something different than what they already know, they become somewhat addicted to wanting more of that.
Another thing that we, as adults, need to understand about youth is their habits. We need to make room for those habits, and comprehend that not everything that younger adults want to do means that they’re choosing wrong, or that they don’t know what’s best for them. Sometimes, very tiny simple habits can show more about a teen’s actual potential, better yet, they can help them improve, if adjusted properly.
Having dealt with youth, and specifically the ages ranging between 14 and 17 year olds, I’ve learned a lot about this matter.
- 1There was once this student who kept asking me if he could listen to music while he worked. I couldn’t understand it very well; I thought that would be a complete distraction. Until one day, I decided maybe it’s time to try it out. I told my 17 year old student that he can listen to his choice of music with his earphones on as he wrote his paper. To my shock, he was quiet and at full concentration throughout the whole session, and he created a very good piece of writing. The love for music can affect other things positively.
- A 15 year old boy always asked me if he could place his table away from everyone and towards the wall. I usually found it very sad, and thought that such a habit must mean he is not a very confident student, maybe even an introvert. I couldn’t help but agree and allow him to seat himself as he pleases. I was curious to see the results. This student was an average one, until he was allowed to sit as he liked; he handed in beautiful work, he was less distracted, and he seemed to be a lot happier. To top it off, he actually isn’t an introvert, he just liked to be alone when he had work to do.
- There was once a 16 year old girl who needed to desperately check her mobile every 15 minutes. It caused her a lot of distraction from what she was supposed to hand in on time, so I couldn’t allow such a habit to proceed. But she would do it anyway, and we’d get into an argument every time, it lead to more wasted time. So we dealt with it through an agreement, that she is allowed to check her mobile for 5 mins every 30 minutes, so nearly twice per session. She agreed. It was hard the first few times, but later on her habit was controlled, and she got to check her phone when allowed and finish her work on time. Working around habits can get you somewhere with this new generation.
Youth are overflowing with good and bad habits. It is up to us to spot those habits, and either work around them to show how youth can benefit from them and highlight their capabilities better through them, or to control those habits and turn them into useful less damaging ones.