Sep 5, 2014

High School: Preparation For Higher Learning?

My memories of high school is not as special as my days attending the university, not necessarily academically, but socially and personally. Sadly, today's academic standards are less than what was demanded in my high school days; except when it comes to language where Spanish (no choice of other language like French/German or whatever) is required. Latin is relegated to the university and college students; entirely depending upon what they choose for their major.

High school is traditionally a period of education to prepare students for college; but that has been a generally accepted concept for the high school atmosphere is nothing like attending a college or university.
It is because high school became a social division of student creation and too often accepted or encouraged by faculty. Americans generally frown upon regimentation and institutionalized code of dress, that role being played out by the group of students who place themselves on pedestals of an elite class of their own making, too often encouraged or spawned by their “elite” parents.
In my days of high school, which originated in the eighth grade, possibly preparing for the social regimentation, there were two major social groups, primarily according to hairstyle and/or clothing style. Hailed was the latest fashions and those who, due to family economic situations, were forced to primarily wear “hand-me-down” clothing or what was available at the local thrift shop. The two major groups were called “Greasers” and “Socialites” - and during that four-year period of social battles, a third group that was called “Hippies” - enjoying the wrath of both of the other social groups. The bottom of the social totem pole was the “Nerds” - who at that time did not really have a handle – treated for their above-average intelligence and too often lack of common sense; unjustly shoved aside by the other social groups.
Early Beatles
It had been established after the cultural music revolution and the “British Invasion” of the Beatles, Rolling Stone, and Herman's Hermits; amidst the continuing success of classic Rockers like Elvis Presley and the advent of American Rock groups of the beginning of what would be called “Hard Rock”.
There was no high school in our district, made up of unincorporated communities, so we were bussed to another township to attend another school; those students from that town looking upon us as invaders. So the social division was not just about hair style and clothing.
The socialites were generally children of parents in the upper middle class who snubbed anyone that did not dress like them or have the means their parents provided them. This attitude was carried by some teachers, like my drama teacher who sent me to the Dean the first day of Speech class for answering a question directed at me by another student. The students who knew me had realized after a time that because I dressed like a Greaser, I really was neutral and fairly open-minded when it came to social division. I had learned that I could have conversations with someone in the Ivy League or a “Greaser” mentality. I cannot determine if it was a learned process or just came naturally, probably both; but I did learn that intellectual conversations intrigued and interested me. But to those who socially judged people by their outward appearance, they never knew that.
I was never a “bully” as Greasers had gained a reputation of being so, too often justified; in fact I stood up to bullies and had a personal code that the downtrodden and the weak should be protected by social warriors.
On a few occasions, the socialites, made up primarily of part of the football team, would collide physically with the Greasers; the latter knowing street-fighting tactics while the Letter Sweater guys knew brute strength.
I had tried out for the wrestling team and scrounged up the money for a “jock” sweater, and one day showed up in school wearing it. Even without my “letter” sewn on, it attracted the attention of a girl who had for the Freshman and Sophomore years ignored me, mistook me for a new student and seemed interested. I thought it was amusing and at the same time sad about recognizing or communicating with someone because of clothes worn and not investigating the inner person.
During the first two years it seemed I was in too many after school fighting bouts, but by Junior year my reputation afforded me peace to the point that bullies and jocks would leave me along; and due to the myths that develop in the high school environment, some people avoided me.
Somehow I made it through that social and mental battleground and when I left high school, I set out to join the real world, first at a retail store moving from the back-room dock to assistant Men's Department manager – totally a title for my duties and wages were that of a regular retail employee. When the store closed, I moved on to becoming an apprentice meat cutter at National Tea Company – and that closed down as well.
I did not find out about the wonderful opportunities and the joy of attending a college/university until I reenlisted in the US Army after several years as a civilian. It was then a second reminder after leaving high school for the “real world” that high school was a social lie.
Attending the first reunion of my high school, I realized that those who were declared “most likely to succeed” had learned the hard way that popularity is not the key to success, unless you opt for a career as a politician. I was still unmarried and had my own trucking business at the time; while those who were rude to me because of their inventive social pecking order had been divorced, some more than once; drunks and just generally delusional about life in itself.
As seems the story of many high school reunions, one discovers that someone you admired had a crush on you – unbeknownst to you. Then there is the satisfaction that the belladonna cheerleader or socialite that you had a crush on became delusional about life like others in her group; who suddenly has an interest in you. Then you have the choice of having personal satisfaction in turning her down, or in the alternate scenario a regular girl turning down the high school sports star.
High school should be the stepping stone and the preparation for college and university – academically and socially. One would think that in this day and age, those social divisions would have been trashed to the past – but unfortunately, it continues just with different social class names and clothing styles. I am happy to see that people who must wear glasses are not ostracized and called “four eyes” anymore, and the same former stigma for students who must have teeth braces in order to correct dental problems. Students who had those dental hardware were called “tinsel teeth”. Never understood that because I did not look at them as defective, like I did not look down upon the students who attended special classes because they were slow learners – cruelly referred to as “F Troop” after the comedy TV show of the same name representing US Cavalry misfits in the Wild West. Two of them became good friends, one female and one male, who married after high school. Even “Nerds” (“Geeks”) saw revenge as they became the moguls of Silicone Valley and other economic successful ventures.
I remember a tall and plain girl who dressed plainly because she probably had trouble finding clothes to fit her size. One day while passing by, I saw two male students purposefully bump into her making her lose her books on the floor. I took action by slamming the leader of the two against the wall declaring that if he ever messed with my girlfriend again it would be painful. The girl I had rescued from the brigands turned several shades of red, too astonished to pick up that which was knocked out of her hands. I helped her pick up her books and she quickly went her way after thanking me, her head turned towards the floor to prevent looking into the eyes of students passing by.
I certainly did not intend to make her feel uncomfortable, but it was a spontaneous thing with intentions of showing how terribly wrong they were persecuting someone because of their physical features or whatever.
I can thank my mother for those traits. At an early age she taught me to never harm the physically different people, but protect them. At an early age one of my best friends was a boy who lived in the apartment above us who attended a special school for the hearing impaired. I learned sign language, now long forgotten, which proves the premise that the younger one learns language (and keeps practicing it) the better/faster it can be learned.
As years went by, my crusade for the downtrodden and unrighteously oppressed continued in different facets.
Golden Rule - Norman Rockwell
The first book I read about this social divide phenomenon was written by the celebrated author, Stephen King entitled Carrie - excellently reproduced in the cinema later by Hollywood. Unfortunately, “B” movies and cult horror films have used that scenario to produce uncalled for violence and graphic bloodiness. Mr. King has gotten his stories mostly from real life, bringing to the forefront the reality of human nature, like in his story The Mist, also produced on film.
Hollywood, in its twisted and entrepreneurial way, tried to make a statement that being cruel to people who “don't fit in” is wrong and can produce mental and personality scars one finds impossible to overcome.
Janis Ian, in 1976, sang a song about the result of high school social division and the mental scars they produce. Fortunately, it was available on YouTube
My son is out of high school and all during the trials and tribulations in those four years, I kept reminding him that the social division, the self-acclaimed “elite” only counts in Hollywood and political circles – both being surreal – lost from the reality of living life. Life after high school will make all that social nonsense irrelevant. 
After taking Psychology 101, I found that people who enjoy making others feel less of a person or not belonging – persecuted mentally and/or physically – are themselves unsure of themselves. The act of persecution aforementioned marks a person who feels they must degrade others in order to make himself/herself look better in the eyes of his/her peers; when all they need to do is be themselves, if they can perceive who they actually are. Parents, teachers and school administrators need to address this problem without the stigma of political correctness. It is just a manner of having a personal code – of conduct and values, and yes, morality. This kind of behavior does not belong in a nation that was conceived in liberty, freedom, and justice for all. It is high time that the big picture is looked upon, disregarding skin pigmentation, physical features and the manner in which a person decides to clothe themselves. We also need to take away that social stigma when it comes from the state we reside in.
We need to think of ourselves as simply Americans, for as Abraham Lincoln aptly pointed out – we cannot survive as a nation when divided. Each one of us have similarities, while at the same time differences – and those differences should not be held against one another, unless it is criminal and/or unacceptable in the sense or civic/moral being.
Generally speaking, Americans take pride in being unique – so why do we still retain unfounded and unjust social prejudice?
This does not mean that we, as Americans, must bow to the whims of bullies and/or those who attempt to destroy that unique American culture – the part that is good and wholesome, the part that unites us. That specifically calls to mind the ideological and physical war against Islamic Jihadism. It must not be waged just because they are different, but because they are bullies who retain a barbaric ideology that belongs forgotten to the medieval age. It must be eradicated not because they are different than the mainstream of western civilization, but because they insist upon others being passive while they are aggressive. It is because their doctrine of religion demands that those who do not follow their theocratic establishment must be eradicated.
They are bullies whose intent to destroy Israel should not be sanctioned or found to have excuses by the international community (United Nations), and especially not by Americans.
Israel has shown on several occasions that its people want to live in peace with their neighbors; but the international community tends to take the side of the bullies instead of the victims.
The answer to the question “Why?” is too complex apparently for anyone to answer.
The person that Americans elected, twice, to be our president has too often sided with the bullies or provided them excuses or has made the untrue statement that they are not all bad, so we must show them the way.
The only thing the bully will understand is by countering their force, not giving them what they want, and punching them out.
The liberal-progressive-socialist is hung up on social injustice – but they are deceived in just what social injustice is. The terrible things done to unacceptable people in high school can be carried on into the real world – that is social injustice. If one person who has not made the decisions that make them successful in life demand that others who have been or are successful share in their rewards – that is not “social justice”. It is socialism and social injustice, a plank in the platform of the Communist Manifesto that divides and pits groups in societies against each other – and then conquers them both.
That is the facts of life. That is now what is being taught in our educational system. That is what creates a weak-minded generation who no longer think for themselves nor prize common sense; but insists that if the government, those that operate it, dictate that is what it is – then we must all follow like sheep. Unfortunately, they are following the wolf instead of the Shepard.
It is time to correct this malfunction and insist that social and political reform take place under the guidance of what the Founders created, following the Rule of Law, the US Constitution and develop a code of life that we can be proud to follow.
Politically speaking, those that profess (diligently enough to make people believe it) to fight poverty (through economic division and income redistribution) is the actual CAUSE poverty - that and that American youth are not taught the value of an all-round solid education. Social cliches and collectivism should not be advocated, but instead the innovation of individualism, individual liberty of freedom of choice, encourage discussion all in the foundation of the US Constitution and what those that created meant it to be.

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