On a particularly cool recent Tuesday afternoon, I spent two hours tie-dyeing T-shirts with a group of 40 kids. We got lucky, and the overcast skies did not dump rain on us, and instead we had a few hours of organized chaos and downright fun. That evening, I went home with blue and green spots all over my hands and clothes and was asleep on the couch by 8 p.m.
In library school, people told me I was crazy when I said I wanted to work with teenagers. I wanted to “change lives” to “inspire” teens with words and writing the same way I had been inspired not-all-that long ago.
After two short years as a “professional” in the field – yes, believe it or not, librarianship is a field! – I have learned more from the students I serve than I ever thought possible. For those of you who think I am crazy, consider this: Like it or not, these students are our future. Complain about “bad” manners, “poor” writing, whatever your rant is, in 20 years (if not sooner) they are going to be running the show.
So, put your perceptions aside and reconsider: Put yourself in the shoes of a 11th-grader looking to an uncertain future in an economy that’s crumbling, where education is expensive and often feels out of reach. Or, think about an undergraduate struggling to pay back education loans with the part-time job at a big-box retail store. Remember that you, too, used to be that dewy-eyed kid, and some “adult” shrugged you off. Rise up, and show them that there is possibility in a world that changes so fast we all are having to question where we go from here.