The Blog for Penryn (UK) -based Kernow Youth Society for the Performing Arts. Our society is open to young people aged 9 upwards from the Falmouth and Penryn area. Our aim is to allow members to explore their interest in the performing arts through drama and film activities. KYSPA has a strong citizenship theme with activities aiming to promote self confidence, teamwork and communication skills.

Saturday, 7 April 2007

Why work with teenagers?

There was a time, when I was at college studying to become a Primary School teacher, when I held very strong views on working with teenagers; NO WAY! Anyone who knew me back then will testify that the very idea scared the bejeebers out of me.

I liked working with younger children. They're very open to new ideas and, not knowing that something's impossible for children their age, will attempt and achieve much more than you might imagine. For example, when we were given a problem solving activity as part of our A Level economics studies, I thought that the 7 and 8 year olds I was working with at the time might enjoy it. So I adapted it slightly and sure enough an A Level activity produced some pretty impressive results in a Primary School classroom.

I assumed that working with teenagers would be an entirely different ballgame. Teenagers, I thought, were impossible to motivate and difficult to manage. The stereotype of the "grunting" teenager who's way too cool to interact with adults led me to think that they lacked the "spark" of younger children and would not be much fun to work with at all.

This could not be further from the truth and the decision to try working with teenagers, despite my misgivings, was probably one of my better ones. Teenagers absolutely DO have "spark". They're old enough not only to have new ideas but the energy to try them out. They like a challenge as much as the next person.

Being a teenager is pretty tough. You're not a kid anymore, but at the same time society in general doesn't really treat you like an adult (often you're treated more like an inconvenient problem). Ironically, it is probably society's inability to "cope" very well with teenagers that makes voluntary work, like what we do at KYSPA so rewarding. Because it's so rare that teenagers are given the opportunity to take on projects, such as a drama performance or making a film, they jump at the chance when it's offered. The results are impressive and fun to be part of.

So if there's anyone out there who, like me in my younger days, thinks that working with teenagers is unrewarding and not for them I'd like to humbly suggest a re-think! Look at our other posts, like the Fresh 6 posts and see what can be achieved. Then, if you think you've got something to offer, find a local group and go see for yourself. You'll be surprised.

As for any teenagers reading this, just remember that it's much rarer than it should be that adults take time out to run activities etc for you. Make the most of opportunities they offer you & along the way you can perhaps begin to break down the persistently negative (and unjustified) stereotypes that persist about your age group.

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