"We come in peace!" are the most common words spoken by aliens before they turn on you, scavenger human flesh and then blow up planet Earth. This is the standard script for alien invasion movies. It is also the way adults often view their relationship with teenagers. The somewhat manageable "we come in peace" days of childhood change overnight into a strange wasteland of alien activity, raging hormones and destruction of planet home life.
As a dad of a middle school son, I get the analogy. However, brace yourself, teenagers are human beings. They are not to be endured, they are to be cherished. They are not to be dealt with, they are to be parented. I believe adults often treat teenagers with suspicion and contempt (I get that as well), but we need to remember they are little humans in need of adult "First Contact" (I had to continue the alien theme--sorry) in order to get from childhood to adulthood. I am a big fan of Christian Smith and his research of students. I recently ran across an interview of him published in the new MORF Magazine (http://www.morfmagazine.com/). Check out what he said he personally took away from his study of students:
"One thing I learned from this research--which is a pretty stupid thing to have to learn as an older person, but I thin is really important--is that teenagers are people. They are not from another planet. They are not another species. They are just immature people just like adults are. I think t is really important that young people have relationships with older people, real relationships, and that older people don't just think they have to survive teenagers or tolerate teenagers, but enjoy teenagers, to engage them, to have teenagers as part of their lives. I think that's good for adults and good for teenagers. Out culture doesn't tell us that much. If anything, it tells us the opposite and I think that that's wrong. I think what is really important and good is to learn to connect with teenagers because they are people that belong to the human race and need adults."
Did you check out the last, highlighted line? Students need adults! As an adult, chances are you have a student living in your home or you know a student that needs positive adult influence. Go ahead and start a conversation. Make first contact with this alien race of human beings and you will realize they really do seek peaceful relationships with earth's adult population.
Question: The Smith quote contains a lot of powerful statements. What is your favorite statement and why? What way's are you interacting with today's student population?