Friday, May 13, 2011

How Hard Do You Push?

People who say teenagers are lazy, don't care whether something's good for them, don't know the value of hard work, etc. don't know what they're talking about.

Okay, I know there are teens who fit that description.

So do some adults. (That's beside the point.)

Here's my evidence: Despite the fact that they want to have fun and don't really like homework (except for Student X, who asks for extra work just because she gets bored at home), I've had a surprising number of students complain about teachers not challenging them enough.

Some teens out there who have nearly a full load of AP classes will wonder what planet I'm living on where such a complaint could be voiced. It's a very small one, where "on grade-level" is pretty much the top of the food chain. But maybe we could push them higher.

After slogging it out for nine months, they want to feel like they've accomplished something—like they've completed their first marathon ... not like they've been doing daily jogs around the local park. They may complain about how hard it is while they're running, but deep-down, many of them seem to want that push.

I have a point, I promise.

I think our characters want to be pushed, too. And they want to push back. Throw a tough situation at them, and get them to slog through it. There's a balance to maintain with believability, but don't make it easy on the little dears. Let their reactions happen in vivid high-def with surround-sound. Challenge the characters. Challenge your readers.

Problems shouldn't be solved too easily. The path of the plot shouldn't be laid out neatly with big, bright roadsigns posted every mile. Emotions shouldn't be consistently lukewarm, only half-felt. Sometimes, a character needs to have a solid freak-out.

And yes, most of this post is directed at myself.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to brainstorm some ways to torture challenge both my characters and my students.

1 comment:

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