"My humanity is bound up in yours, for we can only be human together." “When I hear people say politics and religion don't mix, I wonder what Bible they are reading.” (Archbishop Desmond Tutu)

"And what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, and to love kindness and mercy, and to humble yourself and walk humbly with your God?" Micah 6.8

"Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things." Philippians 4.19

"Work out your salvation with fear and trembling." Philippians 2.12

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

What is it with teenagers?

What is it with teenagers?

I have decided, rightly, or wrongly, not to explain the whole priest thing to my students. It just seemed an unnecessary complication but I have been receiving a steady stream of enquiries. Some youngsters said they always believed that I was a vicar. Interesting. Is this my innate holiness and spirituality or simply the fact that I teach Religious Studies? Others have asked:

So are you a Christian, then?

Are you religious?

Do you go to church?

Do you believe in God?

They seem to have little concept of the religious. Now that's fair enough as most of them are avowed Atheists (at present) or closet Agnostics. Their religious education up until now hasn't helped I have to confess with sadness: they did the World Tour of religions at their previous school and don't know their Karma from their Kirpan. I am regularly told that Jesus was the founder of Islam. or, more worryingly:

But Jesus wasn't a real person was he? It's all made up.

If I had £5.00 for every time I've said There is no doubt about the historicity of Jesus ....

I have worked with teenagers for twenty-five years. I ask again: what is it with teenagers? How do they know so little?

I blame their Religious Studies teacher.

No. Actually I blame their parents.

I'm just ringing about Karl's behaviour in my lesson.

Oh really. That's dreadful. What subject is it?

Religious Studies.

Oh well. What do you expect?

Cheers! Thanks for your support

But we're all entitled to our opinions.

Not if they're ill informed. (I didn't say)

No. I'm sorry. I can't support you on that.

So he can do as he pleases then?

...Well ... no. ...I expect him to do as he's told.

And do his work.

Ah, well, we're all entitled to our opinions.

This completely misses the point. I want their bloody opinions. I'm forever saying I don't care what you believe. What you are being judged on is your ability to argue a point. There aren't generally right or wrong answers as such but there are good and bad ways of arguing your point.

Then I mark their work.

But you said we could put our own opinions.

That's true but there is the issue of the factual nature or otherwise of what you have written. You can't expect marks at GCSE for writing: "I don't agree. It's crap." or "All Muslims are terrorists."

But you said we could have our own opinions ....

Only if you argue them well.

But that's my opinion.


You said we could put our own opinions.

I survey their little faces, open to accept my wisdom and guidance (Hahahahahahaha) and wonder, not for the first time, how we have have bred such a generation of self-centred, right-wing fascist know-it-alls with no imagination or compassion.

Do you know the Bible Sir?

A bit more than Dan Brown.


Bring on the albino attack monks.


  1. It's a bit discomforting to know that teenagers there are like teenagers here.

  2. How do they know so little?

    Sadly, a good many of the teenagers reach adulthood not knowing a whole lot more, as Piskie says, over here as well as over there.

  3. I've seen adults argue on the internet using the process of argumentation "I think that's crap". I even know someone who makes his living as an independent PR professional who does that.

    If I say "I'm not sure why we expect kids to hold higher standards than we have," I expect you'll say "Gee, thanks for the support." But I think that part of the problem is that we, as a society, aren't actually clear about what is a legitimate argument or what is a legitimate way to hold a different opinion. Sad, but true.

  4. So what percentage of your students really is like that? I have lovely 2 teenagers living in my house and I know a lot of their friends and hear a lot of what they say about others.
    Yes, there seems to be odd completely unadjusted nightmare, but it doesn't appear enough for a State of the Nation alert.

    Or is it just that I am living in a very cosseted part of the country?

  5. Actually most of them are fine and really quite nice kids, but where's the fun in blogging about them?

  6. I guess these headaches would also be shared by a good many of the other teachers? ...

    I know a bloke whose teenage boy was studying Great Expectations a couple of years ago. He (the father) said: "Why are they being made to study this rubbish? It's completely irrelevant to their lives. Why aren't they studying authors relevant to modern life, like Ian McEwen?" If the adults think like that, what are the kids going to think?

  7. Don't ever tell them that they are allowed to put their own opinions! Ask them to put forward an argument, this does not validate their opinions. If they think you want their opinions they will think that their opinions are important. Keep them juggling 'why' not stating 'what'. Failing that let them play on Youtube eternally.

  8. Theme: the evaluation question actually asks: "What do you think?" and that's the point they stop reading or thinking. It goes on to say: "Give reasons for your answers. Show that you have thought about more than one point of view. Refer to religious arguments." Only they don't.

  9. Kids are amazing. Awesome. They speak out, they ask questions, they're not easily fooled. THEY WANT PROOF.
    Kids, need evidence. They have brains and oddly use them to drive us adults INSANE.

    I love it.

    Keep up the great work kids, you have us by the balls, exactly where we need to be..