On Talking Race to Young Teens, Teachers Say It's Been a Tough Year
After a year that saw high-profile police shootings plus the deadly attack on a black church in South Carolina, middle school teachers told WNYC their classrooms were abuzz with personal and sometimes difficult conversations. And they didn't always feel prepared to handle what came up. In a brief reprise of our Being 12 series, we explore the topic of talking about race and racism to children in the throes of early adolescence. One morning in May, Stephanie Caruso had a question for her...
Being 12: How the Views of Young Teens Changed
As issues related to race and policing reverberated through New York City classrooms this school year, WNYC spoke to a few different groups of 12-year-old New Yorkers about how their views changed. Amani Brown, who attended a recent conference on justice hosted by Global Kids, said she did not trust the police, and felt disappointed by the events this year. Brown wore a gray hooded sweatshirt which she said she always wore when walking around her Brooklyn neighborhood. "My hood is my...
Being 12: The Year Everything Changes for Kids, Schools, Tech, Bodies
It's no secret that being 12 years old can be tough. That's why we've created a full show about it. At 12, kids shed layers, test new roles and transform before our eyes as they explore what kind of adult they want to be. Their brains and bodies change at alarming rates. At the same time, school gets harder. And in New York City, it's the age when kids often commute to school on their own by bus and subway. Download all the WNYC stories and first-person "postcards" on why 12 is important...
When Relationships Reign Supreme
Twelve-year-old Déjà Palmer lives with her mother and twin brother on the Lower East Side. She’s a good student at Tompkins Square Middle School, and she’s very active in an after-school program for kids who are strong in math and another program for dance and theater. But like many kids her age, Déjà is spending a lot more time lately wondering about relationships. “I definitely feel like couples have blossomed and it’s been a bigger thing,” she said, adding that many of her friends are...
What a Brand Would Give to Be a Tween Girl’s Friend
Not so long ago, ads for pads and tampons showed images of women in gauzy garments, doing yoga on the beach. Manufacturers left it to moms and big sisters to give young women "the talk." Today, these brands speak to girls directly: Always’ “#LikeAGirl” ad, featuring young women, ran in the last superbowl. “First Moon Party”, a humorous take on a girl’s wish to get her first period, got over 30 million views since it went up on YouTube last year. “It’s not surprising that it could be...
Meet the Teachers Crazy Enough to Teach Middle School
It turns out middle school teachers disliked middle school as much as the rest of us. “It’s just an awkward and difficult time,” said Peter Schmitt, a middle school math teacher at Lower Manhattan Community School. “I would not want to do it again.” But if these teachers hated middle school, why did they ever return? In interviews, we found there were three main factors that brought middle school teachers back to the sixth, seventh, and eighth grades. 1. It’s where the jobs are. Because...
First Person: New Yorkers on Being 12
Abraham Esber, Brooklyn During the day, this Williamsburg native is a seventh grader at East Side Community School in Manhattan. But three days a week after school, and on Saturdays, he travels to Lincoln Center to study at the School of American Ballet. Now that he's 12, Abe said his parents are letting him travel from school to Lincoln Center by himself on the subway. He said his friends think it's cool that he danced in "The Nutcracker" but he doesn't tell everyone at school because...
Lessons on Getting Adolescents Excited About Reading
In conjunction with WNYC’s Being 12 series, celebrated children’s book author Jon Scieszka will talk about getting adolescents– particularly young boys – to read, and the appeal of writing for this age group. Scieszka is the author of books for young readers like The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales, Math Curse, and The True Story of the Three Little Pigs. He is also the founder of Guys Read – a web-based literacy program for boys whose mission is "to help boys become...
This Is a 12-Year-Old Brain on Peer Pressure
If adolescence has a poster child, it's a teenager. In a car. Smoking, drinking, and driving badly while also, somehow, having sex in the back seat. But changes in the brain that lead to the famously bad choices of adolescence don't start at 16 or 17 years old. They start around 11 or 12, at the beginning of puberty. This is the dirty little secret of adolescence: The cloudy judgment and risky behavior may not last a year or two. Try a decade. To understand why, let's start with an...
Tweens and Tech Guide: Getting Them to Open Up
This story is part of New Tech City's series on education and technology. In this episode of our podcast: We kick off a month of podcasts on kids and technology! Exciting!We talk with listener Dierdre Shetler, a middle school tech teacher in Phoenix, Arizona. Hear how she approaches technology with more than 800 kids in a lower-income, immigrant-heavy district. ...and... best for last... We've launched a little classroom activity for schools around the country. We're pretty thrilled about...
Middle School: A 'Hot Mess' of Distractions
Seasoned middle school teachers and principals know what they're up against. Their students are bombarded by physical and psychological changes. The same child can show up dedicated and hard-working one day, silly and difficult the next. But if you grab their attention, educators told WNYC, there's a chance to make a difference with long-term benefits. “In the spectrum of adolescent development, 12 is really when you start to have the changeover,” said Derick Spaulding, the principal of...
Being 12: The Most Awkward, Essential Year of Our Lives
For a lot of American adults, age 12 is probably just one more moment in the extended blur that is adolescence, located smack dab in the middle of those forgettable middle school years. We're here to argue that 12 is in fact pretty special, especially if you're a New Yorker. This is the moment when many students are commuting to school alone, navigating the city by themselves. At school, they're juggling assignments and expectations, preparing for high school. Their minds are expanding...
Chancellor Fariña on Being 12
New York City schools chancellor Carmen Farina explains why she thinks 7th grade is the single most important grade in a kid’s school life. Here's NYC schools chancellor Carmen Fariña in our studio today: pic.twitter.com/OZsCb2oCoK March 9, 2015 Some schools are experimenting with gender-separated classes for 7th graders, esp. in literacy, says NYC schools chancellor Carmen Fariña. March 9, 2015 .@NYCSchools Chancellor Carmen Fariña on @BrianLehrer: No more than 30% of teacher...
Now Saving The Music Industry: Your 12-Year-Old
The rising tide of digital music has threatened to sink much of the record business. But an unexpected sandbar of profit has emerged: the tween market. Turns out, kids around the age of 12 still buy music, and the tween market has become big enough and powerful enough to make stars out of their favorite singers. How big? There are almost 20 million kids between the ages of 10 and 14, according to the US Census of 2010. How powerful? Tweens account for about $200 billion (don’t look twice at...