This month in the Finding delight. virtual book club we’re traveling back to the world of cliques and cafeterias with the help of Alexandra Robbins’ journalistic prowess in The Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth: Popularity, Quirk Theory and Why Outsiders Thrive After High School. This week, I’ve found some extended watching–in the way of interviews, movies and other internet gems–to help us nail down the answer to our over-arching questions: Why do things get better once you’ve taken off that high school cap and gown? How did our own differences suddenly elevate our social experience when before they felt so demoralizing? Check out the videos and review the questions raised throughout this post…remember, we’re traveling back to high school here so there may or may not be a test. ; )
More with Alexandra Robbins
An interview with the author herself in which she discusses why cliques are so prevalent, how schools help instead of hinder the teenage social hierarchy and what parents can do to dissuade their kids from feeling like social outcasts…
What would you tell a high schooler today if they confessed they feel flawed for not fitting into the social in-crowd?
Robbins delivers a quick PSA on why “You’ve got to be proud to be an outsider.” She rattles off a laundry list of now famous individuals who identified with the outsider label as children or young adults. Now that I’m far enough into “Geeks” to feel like I really know the youth Robbins follows for a year, I have begun to recognize the qualities in their teenage selves that really COULD set them apart as adults. In this video, Robbins talks about Taylor Swift being ostracized in middle school for her intense love of country music. Similarly, the outsiders have qualities which will no doubt put them ahead of the pack in terms of employment, relationships and all sorts of social standing metrics.
“Being different makes you awesome and some day people are gonna appreciate you for who you really are.”
What qualities do you exhibit which exemplify Robbins’ “quirk theory”? Can you think of more examples of individuals who went from outsider to success story?
And just for fun, here is Alexandra Robbins on The Colbert Report discussing another book she wrote about high schoolers–The Overachievers: The Secret Lives of Driven Kids.
How do you think this quest for academic success/college acceptance as end goal affects social inclusion/exclusion?
Cinematic Renderings of the High School Experience
My top 5 favorite “High School Movies”:
1. Ferris Bueller’s Day off
2. 10 Things I Hate About You
3. The Breakfast Club
4. Mean Girls
And if you have a lot of time on your hands just watch all of Friday Night Lights!
What do these films get right about the high school experience? What do they get wrong? What’s your favorite movie about high school? Is there a movie that shaped your own teenage experience simply because it was about teens and you watched it WHILE you were a teen? #meta
Remembering the Past/Help the Future
In the end, this book strikes a cord with so many because we’ve all been there. While it may be easier to come out the other side and benefit from “quirk theory,” I’d like to challenge you to peek back through that tunnel at the person you were. Have an old VHS tape of a choir competition? Watch it. Did you keep a journal full of poetry and essays? Read it. Look through old photo albums, class assignments, defunct for a decade Livejournals. This little trip down Nostalgia Boulevard could hold valuable information for how you interact with struggling teenagers in the future. It’s easy to put the past behind us and just say “Yeah, high school sucks but it gets better.” But a more concrete answer can be a lot more enlightening. After my own excavation of high school artifacts I’ve found this example: Yes, it was crazy weird that I felt the need to deliver a rather dramatic monologue for a talent show Fall semester of my freshman year of high school. Considering all the popular kids treated speaking in public like a joke and were more focused on sports than spotlights, this was in-crowd suicide. Yet, fast forward four years and speaking in public would get me into college and earn me all kinds of resume boosting awards. Fast forward four more and things like job interviews and work-place negotiations feel like no big deal. With the clarity of over a decade’s removal from that example I can see the difference between me and the in-crowd, in that instance, was bravery.
And now that we’ve isolated some of the things which made us unique in high school and thought of concrete examples for “quirk theory” in our own lives, the final extended watching I would like you to do is….real life, current high schoolers. Go support some kids. As I’ve said before, the school system is doing everything it can to support exclusion by putting certain kids, groups and extracurriculars on a pedestal. Let’s strive to counteract this trend by building up the kids who are different in similar ways to our high school selves. Judge a speech tournament. Go to a play. Buy a piece of art. Donate to a gaming club. Speak at schools about your job. Coach something. Volunteer. Talk to kids about their interests. Cheer for the marching band. Got more ideas? Leave ’em below! I think we can all commit to doing one of these things this month. : ) Let’s do it!
If you could write a letter to your high school self what would it say? If you could sit down with one group of kids and READ them your letter to yourself who would they be?
Dear Mr. Vernon, we accept the fact that we had to sacrifice a whole Saturday in detention for whatever it was we did wrong. But we think you’re crazy to make us write an essay telling you who we think we are. You see us as you want to see us – in the simplest terms, in the most convenient definitions. But what we found out is that each one of us is a brain…and an athlete…and a basket case…a princess…and a criminal…Does that answer your question?
~The Breakfast Club~
2 thoughts on “Book Club: In Pursuit of WHY it Gets Better Pt. 2”
Dang! I really wish I had time to read this book!! I love me some Mean Girls, but I think 10 Things is my favorite teen movie. In my high school, we had a group of girls that literally called themselves “The Elite 8.” By senior year, we were all so board of them winning everything that the captain of the speech team (me) was elected homecoming queen and my co-captain was the president of the senior class. Sure, it didn’t really change anything overall, but it was nice to know we weren’t the only ones who though the high school class structure was bunk.