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gnat (29)

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Journal of gnat (29)

Monday December 01, 2003
11:11 PM

"Not Much, Just Chillin'"

[ #16115 ]
I'm nearing the end of Not Much Just Chillin': A Look at the Hidden Lives of Middle Schoolers. The lives, thoughts, and emotional growth of 11 through 13 year olds is here, and it's fascinating, horrifying, and terrifying all at once. I'm dreading, even more than before, the time when my kids hit this age.

It's more than the predictable "they're all having sex!" and "what ARE they thinking?" stuff. I really enjoyed, for example, the discussion of bullying. It demolished, quite clinicly, the idea that somehow bullies are a minority and if only the bullied would ignore the bullies it'd all go away. Kids at that age are hellbent on belonging, which is why they all wear basically the same clothes, and hellbent on individuality, which is why there's so many different types of near-identical clothes in the teenager stores. A lot of the bullying is driven by these needs--for a teenager to belong to the herd, there must be a clearly defined "not herd". The bullied. The book explains it better than that, but when I look back at what I remember of those years in my life, it seems accurate.

And it's fascinating on a story level. Watching the kids for a year, seeing them change and fail to change. Rooting for the fat kid whose family situation prevents him from studying. Respecting the girl who has no sense of the herd. I have really enjoyed this book. Next in the pile is The Myth of Homeland Security which promises to be just as full of insights on herd behaviour and immature thought processes ....


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