We recently took a cruise in the Caribbean where there were some teenagers on the ship. I’m not sure why they weren’t in school or who they were with. On one ship, there was a curfew where anyone under 18 could not be unsupervised around the ship after 2am. Well, on this ship, there was no curfew but I really didn’t see any problems so it really wasn’t an issue. As some of you know, I get up at 5am every day so I would take my lap top to the Lido deck and stay out of the cabin so my husband could sleep peacefully. On this one morning, these two teenage boys wanted lemonade and were quite upset they couldn’t get any. Then they proceeded to use profanity loudly at a crew member to show their displeasure. After that they approached me asking for a cigarette.
I felt that once they spoke to me, they became fair game. I unconsciously went into teacher mode and proceeded to scold them for their actions and their profanity. I didn’t scream at them or talk disrespectfully to them, but I told them that they offended me and that I really don’t think that their parents would approve of their behavior. If they wanted to be treated like adults, then they should act like adults. I told them that there was no excuse for using profanity and talking to a crew member that way since he was only doing his job. I’m glad they were smart enough to stand there, look embarrassed, and tell me that they were sorry. Then they quietly walked away and out the door. When I saw them a little while later sitting around the pool, they were talking quietly (without any cigarettes.)
I felt proud that I still had it in me! Of course I have seen this happen a few times where older people just shake their heads and move away quietly. I think as adults we have a responsibility to the younger generation to guide them. I saw this as an opportunity to do what was needed. I know I risked the chance that they could blow up at me but I’ve handled worse than that in the classroom. By talking with them, I felt that I made a difference. I felt this was a way to model a way of handling conflict.
Have you ever been out in a public area and gone into educator mode? If so, please share your story. I think once you have it in your blood, you can’t help yourself.
Original image: 'Media Centre, 22-12-2006' http://www.flickr.com/photos/46258685@N00/335704362 by: David Jones