Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Teenage Insight

While I'm looking forward to the end of this final year, there are some things I will miss.  One of those is the incredible insight of my students.  Incredible as in hard to believe.  Each class starts with a short writing exercise and just for fun I decided to ask the students for guidance, so my question to them was "How much money does it take to retire and what do you need money for when you retire?"  I don't think it's a violation of anyone's privacy if I share some of the answers here as long as I don't identify the authors.  Besides, some of the things I learned in reading through their responses were too good to keep to myself.

One young girl said that I can't retire unless all my bills are paid (so does that mean that retiring magically makes all bills disappear?).

A rather opinionated young man said I wouldn't need money because I could just live off my kids and social security (a sad comment on his view of life).

And their understandings of the real cost of life (remember, I teach mostly poor, inner city kids) was vastly spread across the board.  One girl said I would need $100,000 and another suggested $250,00, while a thrid thought that I could live quite nicely on $5,000 since I was old and probably wouldn't live much longer any way. 

One child did see through my subterfuge (or perhaps was angling for an increase in his class average) and suggested that I was way too young to retire and that the students needed me.  Sadly, though, when I suggested he research Eddie Haskell he replied, "That's too much work."  Maybe I should have asked how much money they think I would need to stay.

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