Students walk into the school from out of the cold to mingle with their friends in a whirl of noises and multi-colored blurs. Like turning the knob on a radio, the conversation changes while walking down the hall, different songs for different tastes. The students divide into their assigned groups; some assigned by choice, others by skin color, personality styles, socio-economic status, or a plethora of other sometimes inexplicable reasons.
The bell for 1st period rings; upper classmen and “cool” students linger, while the lower classmen and “nerds” stampede to class like a herd of antelope charged by water buffalo. The upper classmen and “cool kids” laugh and sometimes point at the spectecale created by the scurrying students.
Students file into the classroom, the “popular elite name tags” laughing and engaging in horseplay, the “intellectual brand” discussing last night’s homework, the “sports endorsers” cracking jokes and punching each other, the “misfit generics”, a group unto themselves, sauntering in quietly, unobtrusively. Finally the “rebel tough brand” straggle in looking defiant covering up their insecurities with hoods, and they slouch into a desk. Subtle messages are sent out from alpha student groups to the others. Magically all the students understand their place on the shelf; they know when to speak and when to be quiet. They know when to make eye contact with those of thier kind and quietly guffaw at an answer given by a student from another group.
This phenomenon has been occuring in schools for ages, but in this enlightened age, it is time for it to stop. There shouldn’t be “student types” in school. School is one place that students should be able to go and feel comfortable with who they are. Good teachers, counselors and administrators know that each student is essential to an interesting, diversified school climate. Students learn from each other, if they are all conformists the learning curve becomes small. Different points of view get buried and new enlightening thoughts never emerge.
As a parent, it is important to encourage your student to be proud of who he or she is and to help them revel in their strengths. Just because their strength may lay in chess and physics doesn’t mean they are not meant to be at the top of the societal food chain. Of course, there need not be a societal food chain. Again, societal echelons based on likes and differences has become an antiquated idea. Equality between students is important if they are to learn all that is available to them during their school years. With continuous encouragement and praise, from home and school students will blossom and begin to build the self-confidence they will need to be socially and academically successful during their school career and their life.