Martian Spring: Field Trip by Stuart Atkinson

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Martin Lovell wasn't surprised or offended. It had taken him less than a week after arriving at Mars to realise that moody martian teenagers were no different to terrans: acknowledging even their teacher's presence, let alone responding to a question, was an absolute no-no. Now, five years later, he knew how to get them to open up. It took time, and effort, but he didn't mind. They were all good kids really.

Teaching on Mars soon proved to be the hardest thing he had ever done. Everything was so complicated! Next to no resources, endless paperwork, unbending bureaucracy, Earth monitoring everything like a celestial Big Brother. They would have been more than enough problems to cope with, but the biggest complication was the surprise discovery that there were actually two types of "martian" child. Children born on Mars to incomer parents couples who had both been born on Earth - were known as martians, spelt with a lower case "m". Many people referred to them as "terratians" in an attempt to avoid confusion. Confusion that arose because native martians, i.e. the children born on Mars to parents who had themselves been born on Mars were they insisted, loudly and proudly the only true martians, the only ones entitled to call themselves Martians.

( After only a week of trying to differentiate between the two groups, Lovell had given up, telling them all in no uncertain terms that to him they were ALL " just martians". It made things so much easier.)

Relationships between the two different offshoots of humanity were spiky at best, and confrontational at worst, and arriving at Ares after the dreary, six month climb from Earth, Lovell had wondered if he had fallen into a 21st century version of West Side Story, with the two different genetic lines of Mars-born child assuming the roles of the infamous Sharks and Jets New York street gangs. It had been quite a jolt to see the teenagers of the Brave New World fronting up to each other, hurling insults, the native children calling the terratians "little m's" and the martians calling their Mars-born attackers "Bird Bones".

So much for "Mars, the planet of peace and science" as it was described ad-nauseum on the NewsNets...

But Lovell had been fascinated by how young martians on both sides of the genetic battlefield mimicked, without knowing it, the pseudo-tribal behaviour of their terran cousins. He was no psychologist, far from it, but his years of teaching back on Earth, in schools across America and, later, in the UK, had shown him the experts were right: children, especially teenagers, "joined" one of several Tribes at school, to fulfil some deeply-rooted subconscious need to belong to a family of some kind. In terran schools there was an impressive and puzzling range of Tribes to choose from: the black-clad, spiky-haired, vampire-mimicking Goths; the loud, confident, uber-social sport-worshipping Jocks; the reclusive, sleep-deprived web-surfing Geeks, and many more besides. After arriving on Mars he had encountered Tribes too, but tribes unique to Mars, and far fewer in number.

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