Sunday, November 25, 2007

Hiking with Today's Youth

My neighbor and good friend teaches high school algebra. He was a co-Teacher of the Year last year, so they gave him a 20% teaching overload, composed entirely of "Concepts" students. That's what they call it when you qualify for the slower track. To here him tell it, it's quite an adventure every day. I won't share stories out of school, but his work sounds "interesting." It resonates with why I'm working as an electrician instead of as a Registered Nurse, as which I am licensed.

The hike was an adventure, partly because today's youth seems to be sorely out of shape. As the oldest in the party, at 50, I was one of the fittest, too. As were my friend and his wife. Of course, we had just competed in a 109-mile bicycle tour/race, after having had trained since this past July. One of the adults accompanying the party seemed to have the most trouble. She is the same age as my friend's wife, yet she was the last one down and actually had to be helped down by my friends wife. Of the students, all 14-years-old or so, about half did okay with the required physical exertion of hiking about 4-5 miles over rocky terrain with a 2500-foot elevation rise. The other half, well, let's just say that their bellies jiggled when the moved in a way that would embarrass me and compel me to heights of obsessive exercise were I in such physical condition. For this half, they needed to rest about every two minutes (I kid you not), and we adults adapted the method of requiring them to count out 100 steps before taking (yet) another rest.

Before I sound too negative, I overall experience dramatically raised my estimation of today's youth. These were GoodKids™. They mostly--alright, entirely--came from what social service types now call "at-risk" backgrounds. Whatever. They were honest, respectful, enthusiastic, kept going as long as they were encouraged, interested in their surroundings and socially adept. Good kids. They just need to get out and exercise more--run some triathlons, like we adults do! My friend tells me that what I observed is the norm among his students, except for the athletes. Too bad--I remember that when I was in high school, I wanted to be part of an athletic team, but the focus was on football and basketball--neither sport for which my body was suited, as I was neither physically large and strong, nor tall.

Truly this is the sit-on-the-couch-and-play-video-games generation! Anyhoo, that was my Saturday. Good kids. Too bad we're saddling them with a bankrupting national debt and squandering our goodwill in the world. But, that's another post!

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