Welcome to Heads Up, a blogging experiment that aims to:
- connect the people, parts, and principles of Durham Academy;
- share ideas about learning and human development;
- spotlight a few of the many wondrous things I get to see every day at Durham Academy.
Thanks for reading the posts below — and sending news, links and ideas worth sharing.
Michael Ulku-Steiner, Head of School
Cool at 13, Adrift at 23
A flock of friends and colleagues sent me this article from the New York Times - perfect for our Middle and Upper Schoolers, and/or the parents and teachers who love their future selves. An excerpt:
At 13, they were viewed by classmates with envy, admiration and not a little awe. The girls wore makeup, had boyfriends and went to parties held by older students. The boys boasted about sneaking beers on a Saturday night and swiping condoms from the local convenience store.
They were cool. They were good-looking. They were so not you.
Whatever happened to them?
“The fast-track kids didn’t turn out O.K.,” said Joseph P. Allen, a psychology professor at the University of Virginia. He is the lead author of a new study, published this month in the journal Child Development, that followed these risk-taking, socially precocious cool kids for a decade. In high school, their social status often plummeted, the study showed, and they began struggling in many ways.
Click here to see the full article. Photo credit.
I will always remember being mocked in middle school for not using swear words (I can't claim to have avoided swearing once college started). Neither Karen nor I were among the "cool" kids in either middle school or high school. (Being in band for Karen was not cool, and trying to be the smartest kid was not a cool thing for me to do). It didn't matter, as we had friends from a wide variety of backgrounds, some of whom we have kept in touch with for decades.
Once college started, cool took on many flavors, and there were many more ways to be cool while still being yourself. It also mattered a lot less whether you were, in fact, cool.
Years later, I went to my 20th high school reunion. Some very cool people were there, including a major Hollywood producer (a guy), and the CEO of a $200 million company (a gal). Although both were well-liked and respected by our peers in both middle and high school, neither would have been considered the cool kids. In contrast, many of the coolest kids by the time they were in their late 30s still hadn't completed college, were doing anyting remotely cool in their careers, and looked as they they had been "living hard."
The lesson I learned is that the best kind of "cool" at a young age is defined 1) from within, then 2) by good friends who have both lots of self-respect, and finally 3) by the respect of their parents (this last source of cool helps the first type).
I think both of my kids are really cool for many reasons, although if told everyone that, they might not think that's cool!
Aneil Mishra (using Karen's ID).
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