I spent the day at a middle school in New Hampshire on Friday, talking to students about writing.
A few notes from the day:
1. I started the day by accidentally walking into the ladies restroom. It’s bad enough that I do this in malls, libraries and other public locations, but a middle school is especially egregious, for many reasons.
In my defense, there was no signage denoting the appointed sex of the restroom. There was a blue and a pink stripe that I failed to notice.
2. One of the students compared me to Boston mob boss Whitey Bulger.
3. Another student repeatedly and spitefully referred to me as Mr. Green, using my British pseudonym.
4. Another student asked how old I was. When I asked her how old she thought I was, she said thirty. But it was clear that in her mind, thirty meant seventy. The implication was that I was old.
5. Another student accused me to oversharing personal information with the class. He was clearly uncomfortable when I explained that I started writing in high school in order to impress girls.
6. In general, middle school boys are a difficult lot. They are a group of slouching, pen-clicking, lazy-eyed disaffected kids who still have a great deal of growing up to do. I still cannot imagine how they ever manage to catch up to girls by the end of high school. Some of them are barely human.
7. Middle school girls are much less definable. Some are painfully enthusiastic. Others are reticent and withdrawn. Many seemed excited about learning. All were more willing than boys to open up and take risks.
8. Middle school students (at least at this particular school) are better writers than I would’ve ever imagined. I was impressed with their creativity and ability to communicate in the written form. I saw genuine talent in all of the sessions that I taught.