Friday, October 23, 2009

What the hell are we thinking?

It's been going on for years and years and while I'm going to bitch about it, I've no solution. I know I usually say, don't be part of the problem, be part of the solution, I just don't have one.

I think the idea what high schools should be abolished. I sit there day after day and watch kids come through the doors and wonder why we as adults and parents and society put the kids through the torture of high school.

Kids come in and it's sad. Some are fat and some are thin. Short and tall. Pretty and ugly. Fashionable and trendy, and thrift store and Wally World special- and someone picks on them, or looks at them and giggles as they walk by, or roll their eyes, or slams them into a locker. Or mutters nasty names at them under their breath. Or worse. Or much worse.

Kids who are friends stab each other in the back, leave other kids out of stupid things, tell secrets, use each other... the list goes on and on. It doesn't matter. And there are kids who try to fit in and it's obvious they don't. There are kids who want to be nice to others but aren't because of what the 'popular' crowd might think. They get labeled and are then stuck.

Kids in high school treat each other like no other groups I've ever seen. They say things to other kids that no other age group could get away with. I also wonder what happens if parents REALLY knew how their off spring behaved. How the girls hike their skirts or flash their tits. How the boys smack girls on the ass. The names they call each other. The way they push, shove and grab at each other in the hallways. What would happen if a mother heard her call her best friend "bitch" because of a t-shirt.

Yet we as adults take these kids who are nothing but raging hormones who are trying to find their way in the world, trying to figure out who they are and where they belong and we lock them up in a building together and forced to function, to learn, to think, to study, to focus all while surviving the jeers of their peers.

I now know why we have school shootings, why kids kill themselves, why they're cutting, they they're binging and purging and are anorexic, why they fuck around, why they drink, why they're depressed.

Teenagers are mean. They are cruel. And yet we let them get away with the minor bullying and chalk it up to growing pains, or "that's high school" or "that's life" bullshit. And that's what it is: bullshit. We let teenagers behave unacceptably yet if the same behavior happened in the work place, or in elementary school, we would never accept it. What makes it OKAY to let this happen? How do we stop it? Why do we continue to send kids to high school?

Do you think it's not as bad as I say it is? Then you're wrong. Go sit in a high school classroom for a day and just watch. Watch and learn and be appalled.

Two days ago a girl called Mac a "fatass" to his face. First, he's not a "fastass." He might be about 10 pounds over weight, and it certainly isn't in his ass at all. And he isn't fat. Second, according to everyone who was around when this happened, said Mac was listening to his iPod and the kids he was with were talking about who was single and who was hooked up. Cam said "Mac's single" to the only single girl and she said "ewwwww no. He's a fatass."

What. The. Fuck!?!

He wasn't picking on her, being a high school teenage boy douche bag. He was just sitting and talking with folks he thought were friends and she ripped off with that. That fucking skanky little bitch. I want to rip every hair out of her head. I want to tell her parents and see if that's how they raised her. I want to call her out on it. I want to shame her into feeling like a piece of shit. I hate her.

And how did he respond? He got up and walked away.

It hurt him. Deeply.

And that got me thinking about everything I've seen since I've been subbing and teaching high school and it all comes together in the rant that is this post.

I'm done. I'm not going to teach any more. I'll sub until I get another job and I might venture back into teaching college, because there wasn't these sort of issues when I was teaching at the college level- and if there were, they were out of my sight and earshot. Done. I'm done.

If you loved high school, then lucky you. It you thought it was the best time of your life, I feel sorry for you. If you never suffered any type of cruelty or unhappiness at the hands of your high school peers, you are most certainly in the minority.


Anonymous said...

Here it starts at 5th grade and continues. Here in my upscale, high test score, best sports around town, the kiss bully, torture, and hurt my son daily. The Christian kids ask him to kill himself! This was a mess because we are Christian too and it really hurt coming from a child whos parents are "Christian leaders".
And don't even get me started on sportsmanship. The football/ wresting kids are BRUTAL and get away with it. Where the Hell are these parents? In all honesty the worst has happened grade k-12 here........

I wish the parents could be held accountable for turning a blind eye and the same with the school staff.

Have you ever read this?
Its a MUST read.

Curley said...

And I suppose this little "tart" was a perfect size 2? You know you can change your outward apperance, but most "stupid and rude people" are stupid and rude till the grave. Unfortunately our society puts too much emphasis on looks.

Maggie said...

Curley- it's funny you said that because as Mac told me this, he also told me he didn't want me to be all "mom" and tell him "mom" things. When he got done telling me, and told me he walked away I told him he was a better person than I because I would've said to her: "Well, I might be fat but I can always lose weight. you're a bitch and will stay one forever." and then walked away.

He told me that was very un-mom like of me- and he smiled.

I know that wasn't probably the best response in the world but letting him know I wanted to rip her head off wasn't good either.

Maggie said...

Anon- first, thank you for taking time to comment and for sharing something so personal.

I think what's happening to your son is horrendous. I'm sure as a parent you've done everything legally possible to fix this, short of yanking your child out of school, so I won't even bother dispensing the "if it were me, I would...".

I have no idea what is going on that makes kids act this way. I know not ALL kids are terrible, but it seems the more I work with students, the more I see that MOST are horrid, evil, mean creatures.

I'm sorry for your pain.

And thanks for the interesting article link. I read it and while I'm not sure I agree with him completely, he sure does give some food for thought.

Jimmie Earl said...

I know how Mac felt. I had the worst case of acne in the school all during my high school years. My peers were extremely cruel to me. The stares, name calling, ignoring me like I wasn't there, and snickering behind my back. AND, that was 45+ years ago. Times haven't changed much, have they? Very cool of Mac to just walk away. He IS the better person.

Kelly G. said...

I'm so sorry for Mac for having to deal with that. However, I really think each school's situation is different. Some schools seem to just have more positive environments than others - at least that's how my experience was back in the 80s and 90s. It was a long time ago, so maybe the majority of schools have been affected by this attitude since then, versus just a certain percentage.

I loved high school - but only my last two years. The first two were spent at a local Catholic school where the girls were complete bitches to the girls who didn't come from money.

The last two were spent at the nearby public high school, which was in a very blue collar area. The kids there were so much nicer and more accepting. I never saw excessive bullying there.

Grade school, on the other hand, was HELL for me. I got physically and verbally assaulted on a daily basis, because I was the "fat, ugly, dorky" girl. Like the first high school, this was a Catholic school.

Based on my own experiences, I always assumed that Catholic school students were jerks. However, I've spoken with folks who've had the OPPOSITE experience.

I would love to think that schools' student cultures are all different, and not that this has become the norm *everywhere*, but perhaps that's the case.

At any rate, I'm so sorry for Mac, and he's lucky he has you to remind him of how much better he is than that.

Sorry for the lengthy rant. =)

Shan said...

Because of these types of stories I start every year begging my hubby to let me home school. I think I would SUCK at it (given I have no idea how to be organized or timely) but Jr. high was like that for me. Totally scarring!!! I could have done without it entirely!!! High school was pretty good but by then the damage had been done to my poor little psyche. Oh, my second child will get it coming and going too. Then he'll want to blow the school up.

Maybe when the hubby gets his next job who knows where, I'll be forced to home school for safety or something. On second thought that doesn't sound much better does it? (And I misspelled school the first time too-yikes.)

Tell your fella we are proud of his response! She's not worth the words.

Maggie said...

JE- kids are horrid. what is it about sticking them all in a place together that makes this behavior come out AND be considered acceptable? I'm sorry you had to suffer that.

Kelly- I certainly don't mind a long rant! =)

I'm glad that you had some good high school but again, I'm so sorry that you had to suffer the cruelty of kids.

I read an article about a university that did a psychological test, asking for university students to volunteer as the subjects. They were then divided into "prisoners" and "wardens". Within days, the "wardens" were torturing the "prisoners" and these were just ordinary college kids. I think that speaks volumes and is a valid parallel to what high school is like. (Well, not just high school, according to readers' comments!)

And I should've said this in my post- but I'm not ready to blame parents or teachers. I'm flat out blaming the kids for their own behavior, and I'm blaming society for setting up this sort of situation.

It feels very "Lord of the Flies" these days...

And thanks for the kids words to Mac. He usually is a smartass about everything so the fact he just walked away proves to me how hurt he was.

Shan- I hope you can figure out something that makes you, Hubby, and the boys happy. I've not been a huge fan of home schooling but I swear I'm starting to change my mind if it will save kids hurts.

Thanks for the positives about Mac.

Maggie said...

And Shan- first, you are more than capable of home schooling your kids- don't put yourself down! Because it would be in the best interest of your kids, you would make it happen.

And if it's something you are seriously interested, you should check your state's department of Education web site to see the requirements of home schooling. You should also visit your local library and see if they have programs for home school kids. The library is also a good resource to find out about the existence of a local home schooling association which would open up controlled socialization situations, group outings, PE games, etc...

I just thought I should share this info. I said I wanted to be part of a solution, so this made me feel like I at least had an answer. Email me if you want to know more! :)

Anna said...

I graduated in 1990. I wasn't bullied or picked on but it was absolutely the same as it is now. I wasn't a bully either. I was pretty reserved and according to some of the students I was friend with all cliques which they all seemed to admire. This I found out during a psych class "experiment" where everyone put their name on top of a piece of paper and then it was passed around and each person wrote a line on what they thought of you or what they wanted to say. then folded down so the next couldn't read. I was amazed to find that those same people that were a part of the more elite cliques actually said they liked me because I was nice to everyone and wished they had taken the time to get to know me.

but to be able to stay out of the rank/order/clique groupings is difficult and you're right once labeled you pretty much stay that unless you do something drastic.

Also to keep your group happy and believing you are worthy of the popularity that comes with being with them you must bully people either verbally, emotionally or physically.

I personally think high schools are mostly a joke with the idea that because they are no longer in grade school, that locking them up in a building all day together is isn't.

ok I must stop or this will be longer than your post if it isn't already. We'll have to meet sometime lol

Shan said...

Thank you for your input on that M.M! How sweet of you to be willing to help with resources.

I have read SO MANY books on home schooling over the years and used to joke that I sent my kids to school so that I'd have time to read about h.s.-ing.

You are right I COULD do it if forced to organize my thoughts and schedule myself more. :) It wouldn't come naturally but we can do all kinds of things we never imagined for the sake of our kids.

It is a very complicated issue with us because of the state funding and therapies we receive for our little one that's only available through public school. I'm trying to write a post about him but I don't really like to be so serious so it's hard to finish. ;)

Our oldest has always thrived at school but I worry for his sweet little spirit now that he's a sixth grader and in middle school. The meanness has already reared its ugly head.

My husband is not into home schooling partly because he thinks many we know are self involved and think they are above regular kids because of it. But some aren't and good grief WE wouldn't be. But I can get reclusive and that wouldn't be good for either of my kids.

So it's a quandary and a pickle. But, I'm with you. I could do without these angry mean environments for my babes! :{

Maggie said...

Anna- you go girl! I appreciate your sharing. And i think it's great that your peers appreciated you- that is wonderful!

And we MUST meet! If you come here to see Hecate, we should all meet for drinks!

Shan- awwww shucks, you're welcome. Sometimes I get carried away. Gotta always help and fit it, ya know?

You sure are in a pickle; if you have a child that has special needs, the by all means you should probably use what public schools can offer.

One of my friends has a kiddo who has an IEP and I would NOT want to tangle with her because she is ALL OVER that school and teacher making sure it's followed to the letter. You just gotta do that, ya know?

I wish there was another option other than high school and home schooling- something in the middle, like a Montessori school? I dunno...

Mac said one sentence sums up the high school experience: "High school sucks." He's right.

Wiley said...

Maggie, major props for having the guts to make a decision like this. I will say it sucks - you are exactly the kind of teacher kids need around. But I understand your motivations and you're also the kind of person who teaches regardless of their profession. Want to team up with me and create a vaccine for jerkdom?

Honey said...

Unfortunately, kids are this way. It's not an excuse. It just is this way. It's not right. It all starts with the parents at home. Having taught middle school the last 2 years here in civilization and at a Catholic school to boot - I was appalled by the conduct of my students toward each other. The girls were bitches, gossiping little brats that when they didn't get their way, they would make shit up about the other person regardless if it was a student or teacher.

The boys would bully along with the girls. They would also be sexually graphic in their talk and actions at time. So much for teaching abstinence in the school/church! They needed to learn about precautions because they definitely knew more than what I did at their age!

But the whole thing boils down to the parents and their parenting ability/style. Today, many parents (not all but most) allow their students to rule the roost which breeds inconsiderate, irresponsible, intolerant little human beings. Parents need to step up to the plate and parent. They need to let their child know that this type of behavior is not tolerated/acceptable and that with each action there is a consequence for that behavior - it may not be immediate but down the road... they need to learn that karma's a bitch! And what goes around, comes around.

But bottom line - parents need to parent instead of trying to be their child's BFF!

Maggie said...

Wiley, thank you and thank you and yes. Ii bet we could make millions! especially if it worked on kids AND men!

Honey- I can see your point for sure and I do agree with most of what you said, I am still not ready to 100% blame the parents. I'm sure there are certainly parents of some kids who should be held accountable for their offspring's behavior, but I think as I watch these kids that their parents would be appalled at the behaviors of their children.