I have a one-on-one student, let’s call him Young. He started with me a few weeks ago, his mom specifically requested a female teacher “to help him catch up” because he was “falling a bit behind” in Zorro’s English classes. Euphemisms, it seems, are universal, and I got him because of my success with difficult teens. His mom also gave me a thick stack of Xeroxed vocabulary words she wants her son to memorize. The problem is that the words are intangibles like culture and experience, while Young is stumped by questions like “What page is this?”

Today he received his first passing grade in my class!

This would be an exciting landmark, except that we also did a spoken activity. I asked him what he does at a school, park, shop, cafe, library, hospital, etc. and he responded each time with a violent action. I fight boys in the park. Patients die in the hospital. I kill the mean boys in school. It was really disturbing but I tried not to give a reaction in case he was just screwing around with the new teacher.

It’s a matter of time before Young acts out in some way. I don’t know if it’s going to be metal music and regrettable fashion choices, or actual violence. Young lost the friends he had in Korea when he moved in Yantai, and his homelife is not the greatest, either.

I was in high school before Columbine, so maladjusted teens were not seen as potential attackers. Or maybe that’s just my veiw as a former maladusted teen. My boyfriends all wore trenchcoats and I wrote bitter poetry when we broke up. I also spent a lot of time wearing all black and sitting on my programming teacher’s desk, complaining that no one really understands me.

I’m not sure if I’m worried that I don’t understand Young or worried that I do.

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0 Responses to Young

  1. Du Yisa says:

    Seems like it might be both.

    Thanks for the interesting post.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Wow, that’s a tough one. I’m a TA at an American university and see a lot of kids the first time away from home. It’s always hard to tell the ones who are struggling ‘normally’ from those who really are in some kind of trouble. (A few years back, our department had a student physically threaten his TA and the professor.)

    Whatever the outcome, Young should be glad he has a teacher that is as aware of these issues as you are.

    Good post.


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