Kids and Brutal Honesty

We all know that little kids can be and usually are brutally honest. They speak their minds without stopping to think what the consequences might be. This has naturally led to many an embarrassed parent; it also has resulted in many a bitten lip by nearby adults be they teachers, family members, or merely someone who happens to overhear what was said.

When does this go away? When is it that kids stop speaking so freely? I see people who seem to have no filter all over the internet. I know some adults who still have little to no filter and it seems that they’re friends love that. So why is it some people have a finely honed filter, some have little to none, and others lose theirs in the heat of the moment? At what point do we start thinking about what we say and what effect that might have on others?

It’s not in eighth grade I can tell you that much. Well at least not the eighth graders I have this year. The first journal I had my students complete this year was: What is one thing (or more) that I should know about you as a person or as a student? Why is it important for me to know this?

I was curious as to just what answers I’d get. I got some that I expected things like I hate English, I hate to read, I’m not a good writer. Then I got answers that had me in shock and some in tears. I got to a point while reading and grading them that I had to quit. I had to take a break.

Kids telling me they might not get homework done because they have to help take care of siblings, nieces or nephews, they are in multiple sports or dance. The sheer number of kids I have that have lost a parent or sibling, or grandparent that was raising them just hurts my heart. Several of the kids have someone in their life fighting cancer or some other disease. At least two shared with me that their mom’s just don’t care, one specifically said ‘mom cares more about drugs than me’, yes that lead to more tears. Another told me mom came home from work one day and just quit taking care of the student and their brother, finally the state sent them to live with their dad, and while things are better as someone cares they’re living in basically one room.

They’re so willing to share. I think that’s what leads some of them to use school projects as therapy. Still it always leaves me wondering when does this stop? Do high school kids share the same way with their teachers? I can’t claim that it’s anything I do, those journals were assigned in the first week of school. I barely knew the kids. We were just starting on our relationship building. So when does it end?

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