We know teenagers are capable of remarkable things, but Jeff Bliss, a high schooler in Texas this week truly did the impossible: he made us feel sorry for teachers.
His method? Launching into an in-class tantrum that was recorded and then splashed onto the Internet. Parents, you really should watch it (just ask your teen how to use the computer). But be sure to turn off your blood pressure app when you do (again, your kid can show you how to do that). For you’ll see our prize student righteously lecture his teacher for not being up to snuff, indignantly proclaim that he deserves better, ignore all the responses, and petulantly storm out of the room.
All that was missing was a threat to “hold my breath til I turn blue” (well, that and a sense of irony).
It’s a scene that parents of teens have seen endlessly before – pretty much anywhere they have been while in the company of their offspring when the I’m In a Bad Mood light goes on. (If anyone knows where the Off switch is for that damn thing, please share it with the rest of us.)
It’s also a scene that makes us long for those Good Old Days, when students were better at masking their contempt for anyone older than them, when teachers commanded – and received – respect, and when the only embarrassing classroom video was the one shown in Sex Ed.
Most of all, though, it is a scene that sums up our world today: a culture of enabled entitlement. And two of the biggest offenders are the stars here: teens and teachers.
Neither group has much of an idea of what life is like in the real world but both believe they are hard done by. Each feels that they have all the answers, but neither sees any need to listen to others.
You’ll see it all play out in 90 seconds. The student delivers an emotional outburst (unlikely to be his first), frustrated by what he views as an incompetent education system that is failing him. The teacher makes no serious attempt to regain control of her classroom, her voice droning like Charlie Brown’s teacher, and her tone indicating she has better things to do with her time than be in a classroom. The other students sit quietly, not a hint of textbooks or note-taking, or interest, to be found.
And the capper – not on video, but more shocking than many of the things you will see on the Net these days – comes from the Texas school district, which announced that it will do nothing about the incident. These good ol’ boys need to make a call to one of their own, Dr. Phil, who specializes in teaching enablers how to say “No.”
It’s what the teacher should have said to the student, who has plenty of other constructive ways in which to make his point. It’s what parents should say more to their children when faced with unrealistic demands. And it’s what students and teachers’ unions should practice accepting.
Until that happens, we’re all going to feel sorry. For society.