Tuesday, June 14, 2011
The High School Experience
Time Magazine features an article this week about how much or how little high school defines us. There are so many facets to this idea, and as we move farther away from those years, it seems we definitely are more likely to view them nostalgically. At the very least, as teachers we can offer some objective perspective for our students who are dealing with these intense years - years that, in my experience as both a student and teacher can represent the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. There is all the hope and optimism in the world, and it's tempered by the angst that seems to ground every song, movie, novel, TV show, and blog entry about the high school experience.
John Hughes virtually created the high school movie genre that still fascinates us. Taylor Swift tells us that being fifteen is "who you are before you know who you are going to be." Dan Savage is reaching out the teens struggling with issues of sexuality - and there is no harder venue in which to struggle with that than high school - with his incredible YouTube campaign "It Gets Better." I regularly counsel my students that regardless of whether it's a great experience, or a bit disappointing, these are not, I hope, "the best years of their lives." They should view with suspicion anyone who tells them that - or at least without some honest qualification. A student wrote years ago in a personal essay about a particularly arduous year for her class that "No one reaches adulthood without a few scars." Wise words.
So, here's a question. Good, bad, or neutral, what is your truest observation about high school?