She spent about an hour at lunch after church raging about how stupid people are . . . specifically, how stupid teenagers are. How in high school, you are nobody if you don't play sports. How girls she knew who were very sweet became absolute brats as soon as they joined the cheerleading squad. And so on and so forth.
Basically, she was complaining about the social hierarchy in school and the stupid games that ensue because of it. Hubby and I tried to assure her that a lot of that comes to an end when you grow up. (But not all of it. Hubby described meetings where someone will bring up an idea that nobody pays attention to . . . until it is brought up again by someone else later and then gushed over. The difference, he said, is that now the hierarchy is not based on looks or athletics – it's based on position. The same brilliant suggestion can be made by the CEO or the marketing intern, but nobody listens to the marketing intern.)
I vividly remember my daughter's first class in our first homeschool co-op, the year I pulled her out of public school. My daughter was a good kid – a really good kid. But I watched her in that class and was afraid she would end up being the problem child and I would be embarrassed by her behavior.
Not because every other kid in the class was a little angel -- they were not, by any means. They were restless and squirrelly. They didn't always pay attention. They were thoughtless. Some of them seriously got on my nerves.
But what you didn't see is the social hierarchy. The battling for supremacy. Nobody tried to build themselves up by pulling someone else down. It didn't even occur to them.
I have contended for a long time that our school system is broken. Broken in many different ways. It doesn't educate our kids like we need them educated, first of all, and that right there is a shameful fact in “the greatest country on earth”. But more than that, I sincerely believe that there is something in the culture of the school system – public and private schools – that creates and feeds some really unhealthy interpersonal and intrapersonal patterns. School messes up our children.
And I believe that we all know this. Deep in our gut, we know that that something isn't right about what happens to our kids when we put them in school for seven hours a day, five days a week, nine months a year, for thirteen formative years of their lives. Yet we continue the game. We allow ourselves to be blind to it all and comfortable in our blindness. We inwardly scorn and mock those who refuse to subject their kids to the system, and we even fight the efforts of the few with open eyes who try to reform the system and make it right.
I really wish I understood why.