Monday, October 17, 2011

The Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth

I wish somebody would have told me that the geeks shall inherit the earth back when I was in high school. I will admit to always marching about a half step off of what "everyone else" did. I think my adult friends now call me "off-beat." As an adult, I am Ok with that. But as a teenager being different from the norm is nearly the kiss of death.

Alexandra Robbins' book explores several different students (and one teacher) who are outcasts for different reasons. While hearing their stories, Robbins also includes research about those students called "cafeteria fringe." She includes the names of several famous people who were either picked on or didn't fit in and later achieved great things because of the very same criteria that caused them to not fit in.

While I enjoyed all of Robbins' book, I was especially interested in the portion where she discusses the position of schools in this day and age discouraging student individuality and being creative and unique. Many schools that are struggling are mandating dress codes (my school included) and also eliminating teacher creativity by having teachers very nearly read their lessons from a manual. I can see this happening, and while the intent behind it is to increase student achievement, the long term result may be might different. Without those "out of the box" thinkers, our world would not be what it is today.

While it is certainly hard to be a geek, emo, or any part of the cafeteria fringe, these students maintain their own beliefs despite peer pressure. Robbins book is a good look at these often ignored and misunderstood subcultures.

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