As a 17-year-old girl, I get mixed messages from everywhere regarding how to act. From parents to friends to teachers, I have a million social pressures pulling me every which way, all contradicting one another and even contradicting themselves. The biggest issue I encounter is the mixed messages I get from some teachers at school. As I stand on the brink of adulthood, on the brink of college, on the brink of so much uncertainty, I still find myself facing a dichotomy: am I still a child or am I an adult?
In class, I find myself told to act like an adult while I’m still treated like a child. I’m handling adult responsibilities in school and acting mature, yet I still get snapped at and told I’m trying to cause problems just because I’m a teenager. I’m not trusted to use the restroom without permission; my bodily functions depend on the whims of my teachers. I’m under constant suspicion of cheating, trying to get out of class and working around the system just because my age makes me inherently troublesome. If I try to defend myself, I’m told that I’m just being disrespectful and rude.
If teachers want students to exhibit adult behavior and respect them, they need to realize that respect is a two-way street. If you want people to act like adults, you have to treat them like adults. If you want respect, you have to give it. Many teachers already acknowledge this, and I commend them. These teachers let students have more freedom and trust their students to handle it responsibly, and in return, the students recognize that they are being treated like adults and are more inclined to act like it rather than antagonize their instructor. Therefore, teachers who respect their students don’t suffer as many consequences of being treated with disrespect in the classroom and having students who act like children. Sure, there will still be students who aren’t respectful, but when you assume that every student is that way it not only comes across as ageism, but creates an environment of mutual disrespect in which it is more difficult for the teacher to teach and the student to learn.
Treating teenagers as inferior and untrustworthy takes a toll on their mental health, grades and harms CHS as an institution. In order for us to act like mature adults, we need teachers to treat us like we are. With mutual respect, students and teachers alike, can flourish.
The views in this column do not necessarily reflect the views of the HiLite staff. Reach Emily Worrell at [email protected]