So much is going on right now that I hardly know where to start. Let’s start here. I’ve been working with kids that believe that they are worthless. In their minds, they have been cast off by society. Many were gang members, prostitutes, drug dealers, or some combination thereof. They are sure that they will go back to that life when they get out. They don’t know any better. You and I have walked past these kids before. Women, you’ve probably clenched your purse or your man a little tighter. Guys, you probably puffed your chest a little or averted your eyes. That’s okay, many others have done the same thing. I get it. These kids are certainly more frightening than this guy. Well, unless you are afraid or allergic. After a while, this is what I see when I talk with these students.
Teachers have failed these kids in the past. They were too afraid or busy to actually teach these kids. So these kids, now on the verge of adulthood, aren’t equipped to survive in the real world. For many, their belief that they can only succeed as prostitutes, drug dealers, or gang member is as prophetic as it is pathetic.
Their families have failed these kids. Most of us grew up with someone who protected us from any danger. Maybe a lot of someones. We call them family. It doesn’t have to be your parents. It could be grandparents, aunts, uncles, or siblings. In fact, for some it may be someone with absolutely no blood relation. These kids had families that might have been in the same position as my students are now. Some had families that didn’t give a damn about them. Others were abused.
So by the time these kids get to me, jaded doesn’t seem adequate to describe their outlook. Many are hostile. Few actually open themselves enough to learn anything.
Last week, I worked with a group of long-term students who only get to associate with each other. I’ve worked with these kids before, and I’ve become the preferred teacher to substitute for them. They have come to know me to an extent, and I’ve gotten to know them as well. All things being equal, these are pretty good kids. I decided to teach them some lessons that tie-in with FINANCE FOR YOUTH: THE BOOK. By the way, if you haven’t ordered your copy yet, click on the link above and get one today! Anyways, I decided to teach them some lessons from the first chapter on looking for work. The lessons went well (as a whole) and some of the kids were engaged in learning about planning for the future. I finished by teaching them about cars (see chapter 7). Of course I didn’t reach all the kids. Some of the students still made comments that they could just “jack” somebody for any car they wanted to drive, and that they don’t allow prisoners to drive. Okay, fair enough. You can’t win them all.
When I went to the unit on a scheduled visit with some of these kids, a strange thing happened. One of the kids asked me about car payments and how to look up a blue-book value. Another student asked how he could contact me “on the outs” (outside of Juvenile Hall) to talk about getting jobs and establishing credit. I have no illusion that I’ve changed their lives. I’m only in their lives for a couple of hours each day. When they get out, everything that was there when they came in will still be there. But maybe those two students shoot an email asking about cars or jobs in a few months. 2 for 27 isn’t bad.
So if you know a young person, or if you are a young person, read this post and realize that most of my students could be you except for a few left turns instead of right. Take the time to talk with someone in your family about life. Not just finance, but life. Finance will come up, and that might be a difficult topic. Probably not the most difficult, but surely not the easiest. So go ahead and order a copy of the book to discuss with your family. Obviously it isn’t the most difficult book to follow. Even I got a group of teenaged criminals to read and follow along.
I don’t teach in the “ghetto”, but a lot of my kids come from ghettos. Many have never seen or heard of this next song, but I hope you enjoy.