Is there such a thing as “bad” kids?
Walking the halls of school and chatting (as I get to do) with teachers from all over the country, I often hear the term “the good kids”. They are the ones that (this is my own, rough definition here; one I am drawing by assumption) come to class, behave in a civil manner, make an attempt to respect authority, do their work and strive for [so called] “admirable goals” like good grades, graduation, becoming well educated, going to college and so forth.
Good kids are, well… good kids. We all kind of understand who they are.
But if there are good kids, by definition, that must mean there are also “bad kids”, right? It really is a question I am not sure I know the answer to.
I mean, the bleeding heart California liberal in me wants to say, “There is no such thing as a bad kid.” And a part of me wants to truly believe that. I really do.
But to work in an urban, title I school you see kids that deal drugs, commits viscous acts of violence, show absolutely no regard for authority on campus, actively seek to destroy our school through vandalism, graffiti, and so on… and generally show absolutely no interest whatsoever in pursuing any academic aspirations whatsoever. To some kids, school is nothing more than a social venue where they get their kicks causing mayhem, chillin’ with friends and trying to score a little nooky from the hottie they just made eye contact with in the hallway.
And when other campus employees refer to them as the “bad kids” I often find myself biting my tongue. I mean I work hard not to label kids good or bad — in my book, kids are kids are kids and they vary along such a diverse continuum that there really is no way to generalize them with such imprecise vocabulary words. Yet… when other campus employees use the term “bad kids” and are referencing the type of students that demonstrate behaviors like the ones I just listed, is it really unfair of them to call these young people “bad kids”?
And if not, is there even such a thing as a “bad kid”?
Some folks will blame the parents of the child and talk about how they are being raised. Some people will blame the kids themselves for not acting more intelligently, responsibly, properly. Some people will blame the school and teachers for not being able to do a better job of reaching these students. However, this is a different discussion.
The question is, is there such a thing as a “bad kid” when you work at a school.
And are we ashamed to admit that “yes, there are” out of a fear that we will be transgressing some sort of “moral spirit of what a teacher ought to be” if we do indeed cop to the idea that some kids are just “bad”.