Monday, February 6, 2012

Back to Middle School

Last week, I went back to middle school. After I graduated 8th grade from Canton Charter Academy, I vowed I would never return to middle school, not even to say hi to my teachers, check in on my brothers, or attend school events. To say it bluntly, I hated middle school. I was an odd ball, picked on by some of my peers, alienated by others. I can remember the frequent feeling of dread and anxiety that would overcome me before each school day. Despite my emotional scars, I woke up at 6:30am last Thursday morning to be at Jackson Creek Middle School by 7:40am. Why? So glad you asked.

This semester I’m enrolled in a service learning class through the Psychology department, called the Psychology of Adolescent girls. In this course, two days a week we stay in the classroom, and discuss psychological changes girls face during adolescence. In addition, one day a week we have a field experience portion, in which we go to one of the local middle schools, and mentor a group of about ten girls. Each week has a theme, such as body image or relational aggression, which we discuss in an educational and empathetic framework.

I decided to take this class for three reasons-- to fulfill my final requirement for my Psychology minor, to serve and give back to the Bloomington community, and to understand my own middle school experience using the concept of the “Sociological Imagination”.

In probably every Sociology course I have taken, we have either read or discussed the concept of the “Sociological Imagination”, as coined by C Wright Mills. The Sociology Imagination is basically looking at the world through the intersections of biography and history-- examining how an event is perceived by an individual, through the lens of the social, historical, or psychological environment surrounding that event. Now that I’ve had a few years to process and analyze my own middle school experience, I’m ready to learn a little bit more about the external demands placed on adolescent girls that contributes to an often times troubling and tumultuous middle school experience.

I’m hoping by the end of this semester, this class gives me the framework to better understand my own experience of middle school. I hope I can use this perspective to mentor the girls I come into contact with, and motivate them to be strong, independent young women. After all, I barely survived middle school and turned out all right.

Posted by Anne

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