Spending several days with high school students aged 14 to 18 has never been my idea of fun. Even if during the last few months I've had several good experiences with people of that age. So, leaving on Tuesday morning with a coach load of 14-16 year olds and going to London for four days was not on top of my list. On entering the coach though, I realised they were a quiet bunch who didn't really look as though they would be much trouble. Famous last words!
The reason they were so quiet was soon made clear: most of them had hardly left the place they lived, let alone the country! They were so nervous and tense it was incredible. Fun as well. But after arriving in London, I also realised their quietness hadn't in any way gotten in the way of them messing up the complete coach: it was awful. Fortunately all the children have hands at the ends of their arms and four of the boys were put to work (equal opportunities: four girls had to take the luggage out of the coach).
Day two showed that the first day had not been the benchmark for the way they behaved. They were awfully loud, made an amazing amount of mess and had me wondering why on earth I said yes to going on this trip. The teachers agreed on the noise level (too loud) and on day three it was a lot better. And on the day of our return, they were able to behave okay for about two hours at a stretch, after which I would stop and give them fifteen minutes to just run around chasing a ball.
At the end of the journey, the teachers thanked me and wanted me to come with them again next year (yes!) and part of the students came up to me to thank me and/or shake my hand. Because apart from the amazing mess and the incredible amount of noise they could produce, they also had managed to make me laugh and smile on so many occasions. So, am I completely won around to teenagers? Well, not 100% yet, but I'm getting there fast.
Of London I saw not very much, due to the Underground strike. I managed to get some books though (only nine) of which "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies" must be the one with the best title! Don't know whether it will be any good, but I will give it a go nonetheless...