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Introduction to Sociology Instructor: Observing the students over the past three months has caused me to ponder over how young people mature and what influences them on a daily basis.
It was easy to see that although the seniors were only two grade levels above the sophomores, the two groups differed greatly in maturity. The group of fifteen year olds, although bright, demonstrated immense insecurities when it came to applying their knowledge. Most of the students within the class seized any opportunity to avoid school work, often acting silly or purposefully straying from the in class topic or assignment.
When forced to present to the class on specific chapters of Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austin, the students seemed afraid to demonstrate their intelligence to their peers.
The students feel judged by their peers and seek always to maintain a balance between acting too smart or acting too foolish. The students realize that their peers are judging them, and they behave accordingly.
They act silly together, confused together, and they sympathize with one another. I noticed when Mrs. Owen spoke to the class, oft-times the students whispered to each other and ignored her, and occasionally they talked over her.
However, when a peer presented to the class, all the students hushed, realizing their turns would come shortly thereafter. The relationship between Mrs. Owen and the seniors, as well as the seniors with each other, is very different from the sophomores. The seniors, approaching college, have embraced the responsibility they have to their own education, and generally they demonstrate a desire to prove themselves intellectually to their teacher and to their peers.
They participated with much greater enthusiasm in book discussions with Mrs. Owen, and they conversed with each other with equal excitement.
The differences between these two groups helped me to realize how much other people influence the way we think of ourselves and how we behave. The tenth graders still feel and act like children, not realizing how close they are to life outside of high school.
This fear influences them to participate less, direct questions only at their teacher, and engage in off-topic discussions with classmates during activities.
The twelfth graders, on the other hand, are beginning to feel their proximity to their future lives and are accruing knowledge to prepare themselves.
They purposefully involve each other in stimulating discussions, practicing for college life and for the work force.
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