A few weeks ago, my school asked me to give a 10-minute speech to our 400 youngest students, a sort of farewell address before I return to my American homeland.
Ten minutes isn’t very long, but it is roughly 297 times their average attention span, and I didn’t want to bore them. So I asked my class of 12-year-olds: What should I talk about?
Here’s how the conversation went:
Then they sort of yelled indiscriminately for a while, which I suppose was my own fault for riling them up. You might as well feed them sugar right before bedtime.
Seeking greater pliability and innocence, I asked my class of 11-year-olds. This is how that went:
Then they spent the afternoon giggling, for which, once again, I can only blame myself.
After this, I realized what I wanted to talk to them about: them. After all, it’s not just me who finds that this age-group ping-pongs between “charmingly ungovernable” and “utterly feral.” Everybody seems to share that feeling.
The world isn’t quite sure what to do with 11-to-13-year-olds.