Education
10:09 am
Mon January 6, 2014

Study Up For 'Think': Reporting From The Trenches Of Middle School

Today at noon on Think, Monica Egert Smith of Communities Foundation of Texas and Teaching Trust's Rosemary Perlmeter will share the challenges of getting through to middle school students. First, though, let's remember what's so tough about being one

A 14-year-old named Annie emailed producers of This American Life and asked them to do a show about the middle school hell from which she'd just escaped. She didn't sign the missive with her name.

"I did anonymous because in middle school, everybody is so judgmental, and I didn't want the kids to judge me or anything if they heard me on the radio," she explained to Ira Glass.

The staff came through with a must-listen episode simply titled Middle School. It explores the byzantine, insecure and often terrifying experience these kids have - straight from the cozy nest of elementary - through a school dance, the daily fashion exploits of two Mexican-American tweens in Brownsville who cope with the transition by dyeing their dark hair blonde and calling each other "Mimi," and morning newscasts at one school, where the students are charged with reporting the stories that actually matter to them. One gem:

Zakia: In local news, aka here at Parkville Middle, there is a lot of drama going on. Me personally, I lost most of my friends. I really miss those chicks, but I don't think they feel the same. Kaylynn and Jaya were my besties, and now they're gone. I still love them though. They're my sisters. Well, I don't really have too much more to say, because my life is kind of boring, so deuces.

KERA's Stella Chavez talked to some North Texas middle schoolers about how hard it is to navigate the changes - not to mention the hallways.

Listen to Think at noon and 9pm Monday - Thursday on KERA 90.1 or stream online.