Between Middle and Schooled

Middle school is a time of life when littler kids look up to you and bigger adults look down on you, until you grow taller, in which case the looking down is not related to height anymore. We are in the midst of sometimes public events involving the young people in our lives that make us wonder, at least a little bit, what seems like the right way to approach a world where Middle Schoolers are Not Sure They Should Speak Out Against What’s Happening Because They’re Still Sort of Kids but (Very Powerful and Very Public) Adults Can’t Seem to Get Their Act Together.

To assist our understanding of “Kids These Days,” here I offer some contradictions found in the “State of Middle School,” as seen in classrooms across the land and also as seen in my living room, kitchen, basement, and what feels like 4,000 times a week in the passenger seat in my car. You may notice that, at least to some extent, the contradictions can easily be reversed, as if the middle school experience was the most “vice versa” time we could point to. Of course, as a sociologist, I’d like to point out that it is in the between times when we are sometimes most able to understand things.

And vice versa.

And so, here are some interesting contradictions (and their vice versas, sorta) that I’ve observed about middle school:

Deep-voiced Shallowness
Crackly-voiced Depth

Cheetah-like Movement into Slothdom
Slow Approach to Quick Getaways

Pragmatic Buffoonery
Silly Realism

Mispronounced Judgment
Empathetic Malopropism

Awkward Confidence
Confident Awkwardness

Handsome Cuteness
Adorable Beauty

Unaware Smarts
Smart Ignorance

Childish Adulthood
Adult-like Childhood

Detail-oriented Overgeneralization
Overgeneralized Claims about Very Specific Details of I have no idea what he’s talking about with that video game-slash-meme-slash-YouTube channel showing people playing video games or making fun of memes or is it about the thing he was totally and ironically into last week?

Guilty Innocence
Innocent Guilt

Fearful Hope
Hopeful Fear

Oh, and one more contradiction, presently evidenced by my middle schooler’s simultaneous constant eating and constant bewilderment about our current political state of affairs:

Fed-Up Hunger. 

Watch out world. The ones between worlds that can notice all of the worlds are captivating us.

Let’s pay attention. 4,000 times a week.


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