Amanda Gates

The Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth

While it’s not hard for everybody, high school can be a bitch. I wasn’t popular, but I also wasn’t picked on either. (I was bullied in elementary school, but that was one stupid boy, and not after fifth grade.) I think I just didn’t make enough waves with the way I acted or dressed, etc., to merit much attention from anyone who picked on people. (Basically, I was pretty boring.) But, high school wasn’t fun. My friends and I still got in fights. We still gave each other the silent treatment. I knew of sex, drugs, smoking and stealing happening, but I never felt pressured to participate – probably because I wasn’t in the groups that were doing it.

The Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth takes a look at the “cafeteria fringe,” those kids who just don’t feel like they belong because one or two groups create a culture of conformity (or the school itself promotes conformity) and if you don’t conform, you’re weird, scary, creepy, nerdy… what have you. Alexandra Robbins, famous for her ability to relate to and write about teens (see The Overachievers and Pledged, both excellent), interviewed fringe students all over the country and focused on a few – the loner, the nerd, the new girl, the popular bitch, the gamer, the band geek, the weirdo – and followed them throughout a school year. The stories of these kids and their struggles are so engaging and interesting, plus Robbins intersperses all the stories with facts and studies that prove why the “fringe” have the qualities needed to be successful (think Spielberg, Taylor Swift) and why conformity and group dynamics can really mess things up.

I mean, the world is pretty much one big high school, isn’t it?

One theme of the book that I found really interesting is Robbins’ look into the school system in America and how it pretty much sets up “fringe” students for failure. Football is celebrated; the math team isn’t. Popular kids get away with everything; emo or goth kids get told to change their hair or their clothes. Plus, teachers have their own cliques, too, and leave out, and even bully, other teachers. At the end she gives parents, students and teachers several ideas to help change this behavior and they’re good ideas.

Again, while it may not be true for everybody, I believe once you get to college, everything is better. Everyone is back on an even playing field. When I was a freshman, the only few people I knew in my dorm were kids who were considered “nerds” at my high school. Fortunately, I related a bit to the nerds and when I needed one of them to help set up my computer, he did. But, think if I’d been a popular bitch, now all alone at college, why would he help me? All of a sudden, he could be the popular one and ::poof:: the tables are turned. If my child has any trouble in high school (or if he turns out to be a popular jerk), I’m going to remind him of this reality.

Anyway, once again, Robbins writes an engaging, fun, insightful book where I even learned a little something. (I also read that Jennifer Garner is working on producing a TV show based on the book for sometime in the future.)

Comments

You're welcome!

I think these things about high school still intrigue me because I will eventually have a child in high school who I'm going to want to relate to. I may not have been quite as interested otherwise. If my kid's a nerd or a geek or shy or whatever, I hope I can remind him that high school is just three years out the some 80 that you live.

And, at least you know you can borrow this one! ;)

I read backwards, your FNL

I read backwards, your FNL post then this one. I agree with your statement in the FNL post about not being interested in the HS drama, and for this book I'd take it a step further and say I'm not nearly as interested in high school life anymore. But I bet I'd be sucked in to this book as your description hooked me: "The stories of these kids and their struggles are so engaging and interesting, plus Robbins intersperses all the stories with facts and studies that prove why the “fringe” have the qualities needed to be successful (think Spielberg, Taylor Swift) and why conformity and group dynamics can really mess things up." Drat you A. for adding another book to my list!

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