A Ghost of Teenage Past, Present and Future

I’m sitting in Starbucks writing this, trying to avoid the chaos of the sales shopping. Crowds of teenagers are passing by, many of them taught by me incidentally. More than ever, it strikes me that we often fail to notice that teenagers get a terrible press, don’t they?


This is caused by deriding modern culture, the culture our children are faced with every day. Not only the technology they access but the food they eat, the culture they devour. We look down our noses when they eat a Big Mac, drink a Coke. We mock when they boast of completing video games, text messaging, facebooking.

We don’t find their sense of humour funny, their clothes at all attractive. We condemn them for wearing hoodies, jeans which display a large percentage of underwear. Their haircuts seem ridiculous.

And all the time we are reminding them of how terrible their prospects are, how our generation have messed things up for them.

We need to stop it.

I remember being a teenager and eating my first Wimpy burger. It came on a plate with a knife and fork, for goodness sake. I remember believing that I could live on that taste forever. If I could have, I would have. It was a luxury then. Couldn’t afford it. I was enticed by the advertising campaigns of Coke, loved it cold and just out of the fridge. It was a luxury then.

My older brother came home with a BBC micro computer and our house was never the same. Clunky old games, but games nonetheless. We used to play for hours and hours. I may not have had texting but I would stay out with my friends for as long as humanly possible. My friends were my family.

My parents couldn’t understand why Monty Python’s Life of Brian was so funny. Later, The Young Ones, Not the Nine O’Clock News. As an older teenager I didn’t have a hoodie but if I did I would have worn it with pride. Most teenagers don’t wear them as a mask; they wear them because they too are afraid. Afraid of a society which often alienates them.

We forget that Punk Rock meant spitting and vomiting became Olympic events.

Perhaps there is some truth in the above newspaper article. We may may not owe them a living but we do owe them the space to live their lives and the hope that their future will be better then ours, better than now.

Why is it that some teachers want to furnish pupils with our past rather than prepare them for their future? For many of them, we may be the most significant adult influences they have.

2 thoughts on “A Ghost of Teenage Past, Present and Future

  1. Nowt new!

    “The world is passing through troublous times. The young people of today think of nothing but themselves. They have no reverence for parents or old age. They are impatient of all restraint. They talk as if they knew everything, and what passes for wisdom with us is foolishness with them. As for the girls, they are forward, immodest and unladylike in speech, behavior and dress.”
    (From a sermon preached by Peter the Hermit in A.D. 1274)

    We must simply maintain our spirit of youthful teen rebellion in our hearts & minds! Can we avoid the hardened cynicism of our parents? Working in a school keeps me from hardening – like your post – I hope others feel the same.

  2. Agreed. I recently read a post where the author discussed modern day teens’ lack of ability to communicate.

    I asked the question, “Are they really not communicating or are they just communicating differently?”

    I remember my parents’ generation worrying that us TV-absorbed Gen X-ers were engaged in so many hours of TV-watching that WE’D never learn to communicate.

    We’ve done okay. This new generation will do okay. In fact, it behooves us to better understand their way of thinking since we may well be mentoring them in our profession before we retire.

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