I wrote a post on conformity in the public school years; saved it and tried to publish it, my server went down for the third time in a week. Don’t really feel like reconstructing it today but will put in some of the info.
About a year ago my sister and I were skimming through a book about Dr. Laura. The head of the guidance department at her Long Island high school said “she never tried to fit in.” Felt sorry for Dr. Laura, for about five minutes. Why should she have tried to fit in? Is conforming to the status quo what we’re all supposed to aim for?
Received a hysterical phone call from a mother of a girl graduating from elementary school next week. Her Long Island school district has a policy where all kids have to be invited to a graduation party. One girl found a way around this; it’s her birthday party, and therefore she only has to invite the cool kids. It’s a rich school district, and this girl’s family is especially rich: ten acres, two swimming pools, a horse, the whole shebang. Think it’s cruel that the girl’s parents are allowing her to invite four fifths of the class. They’re encouraging an eleven year old to be an elitist snob who thinks she owns the world already. Don’t think that’s right.
The mother who called me was crying that her ten year old daughter is a social failure. When I suggested that the mother might be putting her own memories into this she hung up on me. Though she was using a cordless phone, it was a loud hang up!
The daughter is bright, beautiful, verbal, witty, slightly sarcastic, athletic and doesn’t seem to be upset by having not been invited. I know that her mother doesn’t show how upset she is around her daughter, but kids can sense things, I wonder if she’s more upset than she’s letting on and doesn’t want to worry her mother?
To be fair both parents encourage their daughter in everything she does and cheer her on constantly.
Her mother is right for worrying. Next year begins middle school and no kids are as cruel as middle school kids can be. But should she be encouraged to conform so that she can fit in, or should she be encouraged to pursue her own interests, and to honestly not care what other people think? I think the school district believes that it’s too much work to help unpopular kids become more popular. I think that they’re so enthralled by the kids who easily fit in, that they forget not every smart kid can. If this girl was less smart, she would have services and would be given counselling–just the way it’s always been in that district. Why mess with a winning formula?
How come thinking outside the box is encouraged in every decade of life but the public school years? Many parents who were loners and/or unpopular in school think outside the box and become incredibly successful. When they have kids they seem to encourage them to fit in.
I would blame this problem on the current political climate, but this community rich as it is, is largely Democratic. Yes there are many rich Democrat capitalists–sorry for the aside, can’t resist it.
I know this girl very well, and like her parents really only care that she is happy. She’s so enthusiastic about everything; my heart breaks when she’s left out of things because I know how happy she is when she’s included. Her enthusiasm even extends to kids who leave her out. She tries to make excuse for them when not muttering “frigging JAPs” “JAP” in the generic sense of spoiled a-hole princesses.
As Long Island goes, so goes the country has long been my motto. I can’t believe that in the 40 or so years since Dr. Laura graduated from high school, kids are still supposed to make an effort to fit in. I can’t believe that individualism isn’t encouraged but actively discouraged. It’s not a large school district. The school budget is immense. They teach them to be respectful of minorities, people with disabilities, etc., but it’s still up to the kid to try to fit in. Frigging disgraceful is my professional opinion.
It saddens me that this girl will probably go through years of heartbreak because she has a strong personality. It hurts so much because she’s so accepting of other kids and their problems. I know she’ll have a wonderful college experience–and maybe even a good high school experience, though this school has a combined middle/high school which is why they make such a big deal out of elementary school graduation.
What do you think? Should kids make an effort to fit in? What if they can’t? Should individualism be encouraged? Should conformity be encouraged? How are we going to become a nation of critical thinkers if it’s too much work to make sure that unpopular kids feel included?
I sound biased, and I am, on the side of all kids who have trouble fitting in, in the later years of elementary school and middle school because those were Pia, the lost years. High school was much better. College was great.
But I’m honestly confused and very interested in your thoughts on this subject.
Spam Karma is great; but it deleted a real comment!
Author : jaboobie
URL : http://jaboobie.com/cgi/wp
I find it interesting now that when I look back, I don’t wish I had fit-in more, I wish I hadn’t tried to fit in as much.