Like many of my peers, I enjoy tuning into the Public Radio International program, This American Life hosted by Ira Glass. Last week's episode was focused on the Middle School Experience, largely reflected on as one of the most brutal parts of a person's life. Middle school is prime time for much of the learning and development we've been discussing in lecture and recitation so it was a bit shocking (and yet hysterical) when the first person interviewed, actually a producer on the show who had taught previously taught in a middle school, says, "I don't know that they actually learn anything..." His stance is that so much mentally (Erikson's "identity crisis" for example), physically and socially is going on that facts and figures simply don't stick. Another interviewee, a middle school principal disagrees and believes that middle school is a very important environment because it's largely where kids are learning how to properly socialize and become adults. She seems to take an approach I believe in, that it's how the parents, teachers and other adults in middle schoolers' lives react to the kids' thoughts and feelings and changes their going through, because "We can't help what's biologically going on with them." Nurture, rather than nature. Each act depicts trials and triumphs of middle school life with the final act containing an unexpected twist- the power of peer pressure for good; a teacher using her students' newly developing empathy to assist a classmate with anger issues by talking through his problems and finding solutions rather than bickering back and forth.
The episode was awesome because of how easy it is to relate to it. I don't know that I know of anyone who claims that middle school was an enjoyable experience; however, looking back and especially with further knowledge on adolescent development, I find it hard to not appreciate middle school for the experience.