Why Teach Teenagers?

August 7th, 2017
Why Teach Teenagers?


It’s all about future pathways these days at school.  What subjects? What courses?  What career direction?  How to make sensible decisions?  For those considering the noble profession of teaching, there’s great moral purpose to be found from a true story at recent staff reflection.

Last Tuesday evening, my Hot Yoga class was ending and I was ‘returning to the room’ after the meditation. It’s an unwritten rule that we all respect the state of peace that has been created and leave the space silently, in our own time. But not a gentle return for me this time, as a conversation unfolded behind me, in anything but a whisper:

“I taught my first class today”

“What! In a high school?”

“No, a TAFE class”

“Oh, that’s OK.  I thought you meant you were teaching secondary students”

“No, I would have to be crazy to do that. I don’t know how anyone teaches teenagers. I mean primary school would be OK but you would have to be mad to put your hand up for teaching in high school.”

“Yeah, I don’t know how they do it.”

The women left and I was left feeling strangely disturbed. Am I some kind of super hero for doing a job others regard as really hard, or am I crazy for choosing to teach teenagers? I mean, at some point in my life I had a choice about my career path and I freely chose to be a part of secondary education.

So, am I crazy, brave, stupid or heroic?    And then I remembered this prayer which sums it all up for me. While called “A Teacher’s Prayer”, I would rename it “A Teacher’s Creed”


I believe that each of my students is your child.
I believe that they are a reflection of your love.

I believe that each child possesses special gifts and talents,
that you are entrusting me to help them discover these gifts
and nurture those talents.

I believe that each child is trying to find you,
And that I can be a model of how to look,
How to live, how to pray.

I believe that my job is actually a mission, a ministry;
That you have chosen me in this time and in this place
To be there for these kids.

I believe that there is nothing haphazard about my day,
About my experiences with my students or with their parents.
It is all part of your plan.

I believe that you have chosen me, Lord.
I believe.

(from Prayers & Novenas,  www.salesiansireland.ie)