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Monday, January 18, 2010

Peers and Popularity

The trees had dropped their leaves. The sun was pale through the window. He sat hunched in his desk looking at his trigonometry textbook. Actually, he was looking at the slip of paper on his text:

Ballot it read.

"Please nominate the top five males and top five females for Winter Homecoming Royalty."

His mind had gone blank. Five? Which five? Then a smile crept across his face. "Hey, everyone," he said loudly. The classroom turned to look at him. "Put down Luke Holzmann."

There was a moment of silence.

Then his friends turned back to their ballot, shrugged, and started scribbling. A few months later he was crowned king by default because the football player he had tied with was at a game that night.

My fifteen minutes of high school popularity were courtesy of a whim and a technicality. I couldn't have asked for more irony (except, of course, that the queen was one of my good friends and leader of our weekly prayer meetings).

I had come a long way from the kid who ate lunch by himself in the Cross Country locker room. I had risen from the new kid who was loud and odd to "that tall, loud guy" whom everyone at least could recognize. I had restarted the swim team. I would be captain of the Cross Country team next year. I lead FCA. I participated in musicals. I wrote for the school paper. I was everywhere. And while I had many acquaintances, I didn't have any friends.

At least, no true friends that I would bother to contact after I graduated. None that I hung out with outside of school.

I was popular enough with my peers, the other slightly nerdy yet incredibly involved and successful students. I was mostly comfortable in my skin. I was overly zealous in my convictions. And I was homecoming king.

I realize very few of you have time to browse my Other Posts of Note, but one by Janine Cate really got to me today. Well, the post is great, but the linked article absolutely blew me away.

Definitely worth reading. It's long. But so, so good. Please go read Paul Graham's article on popularity. It brought me back to some of those moments in high school and reinforced the incredible benefits homeschooling has when it comes to socialization.

 ~Luke Holzmann
Filmmaker, Writer, Surrogate Father


Tammy said...

Before I go off to do some link following, I have to say that I've never pictured you as LOUD....

Tammy ~@~

Rosslyn Elliott said...

Luke, this is a fabulous link. Thanks! I could go on and on about this subject, but I'll just make a few comments about Paul Graham's observation that school is prison with no meaningful work for the kids.

Kindergarten is a deceptively "fun" gateway to prison. I think if many parents walked into a first grade classroom without the intermediary stages of pre-K and K, they would be appalled. But the bright distractions of preschool and kindergarten lull parents into accepting the later version of "school as prison" that truly begins in first grade.

I recently visited the first-grade classrooms in our local public school. Seeing these LITTLE kids all as quiet as mourners, for hours a day, made me sad. A learning environment should not be quiet all the time. Yet as a former classroom teacher,I know that in today's undisciplined society, our teachers often enforce silence as the only alternative to anarchy.

If you haven't read him already, I highly recommend Neil Postman's writings on education. He also analyzes the school as a prison-like institution.

Having seen those dead classrooms, I am reassured that despite the personal challenges of homeschooling my gifted daughter, I am doing the right thing. In my view, there is no ethical alternative right now for my daughter's education. Sure, I'd like more freedom for myself. Yes, I would like to have a full-time writing career. But I can't abandon my girl to institutions that kill minds.

I may have to blog myself on this subject, as I obviously have too much to say for a mere comment! Ha ha!

Luke Holzmann said...

Tammy, really? Hmm... well, I guess it really does depend on the situation, but I can be really, really, really rather loud <smile>.

Rosslyn, love it <smile>. I look forward to your post! I haven't read any Postman myself, but my wife has and I have heard great things about him. And that is very interesting observation about Kindergarten as the gateway. Very insightful. Of course, I attended Kindergarten and then started homeschooling, so I don't have much experience with the shift.


Missy said...

I am a former high school nerd and yes, my memories of that experience did in fact factor into the push for me to homeschool.

I will definitely be writing a post on this topic in the near future.

Luke Holzmann said...

I look forward to reading your thoughts, Missy! <smile>



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Luke Holzmann
Filmmaker, Writer, Empty Nester
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