Confessions of a Seventh-Grade Texas History Teacher

John Spong:

Of all the remote corners of Texas considered difficult to reach–the Lower Canyons of the Rio Grande, in Big Bend National Park; the center-field wall at Minute Maid Park, in Houston; the butcher block at Franklin Barbecue, in Austin–the single most challenging can actually be found in every big city and rural burg in the state: the mind of a seventh grader. It’s a destination with no clear path, the ground around it littered with hormonal land mines, the terrain ever shifting as growth spurts are endured or, even worse, anxiously awaited. In one of God’s great dirty tricks, an awareness of peer pressure presents itself during roughly the same week as zits. Soon come a new voice, a new shape, a new smell. Nothing about it is easy, not for the seventh graders and certainly not for the teachers charged with trying to get through to them.