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Denis Fontanini

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Why do kids create social cliques in high school? Do they hinder the growth of others?

I am a Highshool Senior and see this all the time. Cool kids, Girls thinking that there all that. But what I have noticed that has become a problem in my mind is, does this hinder the growth of the other people in the school. When Senior Ball, or Homecoming comes around, and the vote for the king and queen come out, it only contains the "Cool Kids" or the "cliques". What about the other kids, don't they get a chance? ( yes I am one of those other kids). I'm not trying to sound like I want to be there im just noticing a pattern. And I feel bad for the other kids. So what is your input, personal experiance? Any thoughts in general.

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    Feb 21 2013: Peter and Aja are right, from what I've seen. We humans seek those we think are similar as a sort of shortcut to self-identity: the group has an identity that we can appropriate. It is not inherently harmful but turns out to be more often than not. Also, for my students, right now is the only time that's real and the only time that matters. If I try to get them to take a longer view, they smile and nod but do not understand or believe. Adults, I think, often forget how incredibly immediate every aspect of life is for young people. The mean thing someone said at lunch can be just as devastating for my kids as getting fired would be for me.

    Some schools do take steps to de-emphasize cliques, but I don't think one can eliminate the human need to associate and belong. Some teachers do let "Cool Kids" get away with things, so sometimes we are tacitly part of the problem.

    I do take issue with characterizing the "Cool Kids" as amounting to nothing. It's too individualistic for such a generality to be true. What Peter asserts is true, though, and one of my kids and I were talking about that very thing yesterday. She realized that she had begun to reduce her circle of friends to the handful she actually enjoyed talking to and spending time with. She said it's much better than trying to fit in with a larger group of superficially homogeneous classmates. She has recognized that, in a few months, she and her classmates will scatter to colleges near and far and build new lives.

    I have run into some of my old kids who defined themselves completely in high school as kings or queens; these folks are neither happy nor well-adjusted because they never figured themselves out as unique individuals. Another old kid, who was a "Cool Kid" and clique leader in high school, teaches down the hall from me and seems quite normal and happy (well, as normal as a teacher can be).

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