Monday, May 2, 2011

Some Quotations about Parents and Teachers

From Alexandra Robbins, author of The Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth in a Salon interview.  Read the whole thing.

A few highlights, first some great advice for parents.
If your kid is happy having one or two close friends and not being in the popular crowd, leave it. Popularity can be destructive. To be popular does not mean to be liked, and it also does not mean to be happy. Encouraging your child to be "popular" and "cool" can be hugely destructive to a student's psyche. It can actually be much better for students to be outside the popular crowd.
Second, I'm afraid that the phenomenon described by the following example is more common than I'd like to think.  I really hope that these people eventually grow up.  Ok, my real thoughts have something to do with becoming a version of Ben Grimm, The Thing, and engaging in "Clobberin' Time."
What role do teachers play in popularity? What are the "teacher cliques" that you describe in the book?
That was one of the biggest surprises for me -- the adults who are supposed to be modeling social behavior for students are in some cases openly forming their own cliques, with names. That blew my mind. Even schools where they're paying thousands of dollars to sponsor anti-bullying programs and trying to ease social tension among the student body -- these same schools have teacher clique issues that they're not addressing. There was one teacher clique called Teachers Against Dumbasses. They actually go around wearing T-shirts advertising their clique! The students are aware of which teachers are allied with others. They hear teachers grumbling; they know when teachers are dating each other. Even worse, often the teachers are making associations and judgments and in some cases explicit descriptions about students based on their labels. You can't expect students to know what appropriate social behavior is when the teachers aren't following that model themselves.
 Finally, I really love her idealism, "Nonconformity is a wonderful trait, and it's going to be valued in adulthood. If you're different in school, that makes you an outsider. If you're different as an adult, that makes you interesting, fun and often successful."

Of course, all she has to do is find a way to help kids get around this phenomonon.
Stolen from Despair.

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