There's a whole bundle of things here that concern me. Certainly high schools are incubators for alienation. The high school was, during Kaczynski's growing up, just as it tends to be today, an anti-intellectual place. If you are a young person with intellectual interests, you are almost automatically excluded or made to feel strange. Something we've seen in school killings is that kids who do it tend to be brighter than average. That's part of their problem. When my wife taught in public schools she constantly had to go to seminars on behavior modification. All this focus on behavior modification is forcing conformity by using psychological techniques. The only difference between now and Kaczynski's day is that back in the 1950s and 60s, there were a lot of thoughtful writers who published books on the subject. Today, there's very little commentary on it, except in magazine pieces here and there after another school kid goes berserk.
from Paul Graham's article:
If life seems awful to kids, it's neither because hormones are turning you all into monsters (as your parents believe), nor because life actually is awful (as you believe). It's because the adults, who no longer have any economic use for you, have abandoned you to spend years cooped up together with nothing real to do. Any society of that type is awful to live in. Occam's razor says you don't have to look any further to explain why teenage kids are unhappy.
I've said some harsh things in this essay, but really the thesis is an optimistic one-- that several problems we take for granted are in fact not insoluble after all. Teenage kids are not inherently unhappy monsters. That should be encouraging news to kids and adults both.
from Dr. Resnick's article:
Bereft of meaningful expectations, responsibilities, healthy options for recreation and entertainment, and with a notable absence of adults who were capable of being adults and active, involved parents, these young people turned to the basest of impulses within and among themselves, with startling and pathetic results. What our research is showing--indeed what the research of many colleagues who focus on risky behaviors and protective factors in the lives of young people has shown--is that parents, families and adults outside of the family are fundamentally important to the healthy development of youth. It would seem that some parents in America embrace the myth that once their sons and daughters make it past childhood into adolescence, what they, the parents, say or do or hope or believe is no longer relevant. Granted, many adolescents(my italics) are very skillful at telling us, as adults(my italics), that we have become irrelevant in their lives. And WE make the mistake of beliving that! What is clear from the national studies of adolescent health and resilience is that caring and competent adults who recognize, value and reward pro-social behavior in young people can have a profound effect on what adolescents value and believe, about themselves and the world around them.
But the impact of connections in the lives of adolescents does not stop at the borders of family. Indeed, we understand that adolesents who feel closely connected to their schools, are adolescents who are emotionally healthier, and far less likely to engage in risky behavior than their counterparts who feel no sense of community in their school - where school is not functioning, in the words of sociologist Roberta Simmons, as "an arena of comfort". Without question it is the formation of friendship networks within the school that help to provide that sense of community, along with the perception that teachers care, that teachers are fair, and that school is a place where one 'belongs.'
Originally posted by Damien Howard:
Let me put it this way, I can sympathize with SOME of the students who feel forced to bring guns to school and shoot a few bullies. This does not include the racists shooters I don't agree with them, just the ones who need to take care of the losers who are pushes through the school systems instead of being thrown out of the schools.
Originally posted by Damien Howard:
I'm not saying guns should be in school I'm just saying I can understand kids resorting to that because there are too many parents/teachers who fail to reign in their kids. And it is not just violent kids, look at some of these girls who are barely teenagers and already they are pregnant. The US needs more division in the schools to separate those who want to learn from those who would rather smoke up. I'm not saying you should give up on those kids, but they shouldn't be mixed in with the others because they hold everyone back.
Originally posted by Damien Howard:
I don't know when or where you went to school, but in my school, I graduated hs in 97, they didn't expel people at least very rarely anyway.
Well I like to consider myself a somewhat liberal and I like the idea of separate schools. Most of my ideas are probably extreme but they don't all lean to the right, just a few things.
"The problem is, the world these kids create for themselves is at first a very crude one. If you leave a bunch of eleven year olds to their own devices, what you get is The Lord of the Flies. Like a lot of American kids, I read this book in school. Presumably it was not a coincidence. Presumably someone wanted to point out to us that we were savages, and that we had made ourselves a cruel and stupid world. This was too subtle for me. While the book seemed entirely believable, I didn't get the additional message. I wish they had just told us outright that we were savages and our world was stupid."
"As a thirteen year old kid, I didn't have much more experience of the world than what I saw immediately around me. The warped little world we lived in was, I thought, the world. The world seemed cruel and boring, and I'm not sure which was worse. Because I didn't fit into this world, I thought that something must be wrong with me."
Merely understanding the situation they're in should make it less painful. Nerds aren't losers. They're just playing a different game, and a game much closer to the one played in the real world. Adults know this. It's hard to find successful adults now who don't claim to have been nerds in high school.
It's important for nerds to realize, too, that school is not life. School is a strange, artificial thing, half sterile and half feral. It's all-encompassing, like life, but it isn't the real thing. It's only temporary, and if you look you can see beyond it even while you're still in it.
"Bereft of meaningful expectations, responsibilities, healthy options for recreation and entertainment, and with a notable absence of adults who were capable of being adults and active, involved parents, these young people turned to the basest of impulses within and among themselves, with startling and pathetic results.
"Teenage kids used to have a more active role in society. In preindustrial times, they were all apprentices of one sort or another, whether in shops or on farms or even on warships. They weren't left to create their own societies. They were junior members of adult societies.
Teenagers seem to have respected adults more in the past, because the adults were the visible experts in the skills they were trying to learn. Now most kids have little idea what their parents do in their distant offices, and see no connection (indeed, there is precious little) between schoolwork and the work they'll do as adults."
Granted, many adolescents are very skillful at telling us, as adults, that we have become irrelevant in their lives. And WE make the mistake of beliving that! What is clear from the national studies of adolescent health and resilience is that caring and competent adults who recognize, value and reward pro-social behavior in young people can have a profound effect on what adolescents value and believe, about themselves and the world around them.
When I was in school, suicide was a constant topic among the smarter kids. No one I knew actually did it, but several planned to, and some may have tried. Mostly this was just a pose. Like other teenagers, we loved the dramatic, and suicide seemed very dramatic. But partly it was because our lives were at times genuinely miserable.
JD Just last night I was literally talking to three friends about our high school reunions (5yr, 20yr, 20yr, 20yr) (uhhh, no I wasn't the 5yr). We all had positive things to say about them.
Paul, you were a nerd. So what. Every kid was something. too nerdy, too goofy, too mean, too cool. Get over it, buddy. Stop making excuses for your nerdiness. Yes, I was a nerd, but I didn't ~want~ to hang out with the others...
:roll: You probably did and didn't know how. Wow, so you weren't perfect. Isn't funny how you were in high school when you look back??
JD We definitely have issues in our schools and they are different in different places. Different for different economic levels.
MM Bullies were just not tolerated by the school administrations where I went.
originally quoted by Andrew:
I also didn't want to hang out with most of the kids at school. I did have my friends - who were also nerds for the main part, but I didnt feel I had anything in comon with the rest of the school. Paul raised the question - would I have been willing to trade some of my intelligence for popularity? Well I don't know that I have enough intelligence to trade. But even if it was a free giveaway (swallow the red pill and you will be the most popular person at school) I still wouldnt have wanted it - I did not want the other people there as my friends. Not that I wanted them as enemies either - I just wanted to ignore them and for them to ignore me.
The problem was they I was not ignored - I and the other nerds were different, therefore we were picked on. To the point where I do not remember what the yards were like at school - as soon as lunchtime (or any other break) started I (and some other nerds) would go and hide in the library until the break was over.