Book one: a life-affirming story about pretentious teens with superiority complexes who have experiences and give nauseatingly quotable musings on philosophy and what it means to be alive, which often involves their enjoyment of books and tea and their condescending view of the popular kids as sheep
Book two: the same exact story, except this time it’s being narrated by the teacher who has to deal with these asshole kids on a daily basis but is legally barred from saying “are you fucking kidding me” when they say some pretentious bullshit about how they prefer the smell of old books to the taste of alcohol. The teacher is re-telling the story to her friend at the bar, and her friend refuses to accept that these children could POSSIBLY be as pretentious as she makes them sound
Getting a lot of comments on this like “Oh, shitting on the unpopular kids, that’s NEVER been done before, what a GREAT idea, and write a book about the POOR ADULTS who have to deal with them but can’t legally
call them out on the fact that they’re being dicks to the other students say shitty demeaning things to them” That’s an amalgam of many comments, but they all pretty much boil down to that.
Let me clarify a few things:
There are kids who are unpopular for no reason, and kids who have a very good reason for being unpopular. In the case of these kids, they’re unpopular because they’re pretentious assholes who always go on about how they’re better than the other kids, and nobody wants to hang around with people who are constantly saying you can’t be a good person unless you like reading more than partying and the Beatles more than Nicki Minaj.
If they weren’t vocally and harshly judging all of their peers, their peers probably wouldn’t hate them. Now, that’s not to say that there isn’t a lot of unwarranted hostility in adolescent communities. In fact, that’s part of the problem.
The kids described above are, unprovoked, hostile to the other kids and are met with an equivalent level of hostility in return, at which point they claim to be the innocent victims in the situation, wondering why they don’t fit in and lamenting their status as an outcast, despite the fact that the only reason they’re an outcast is that their comments have systematically alienated everyone except the few people in their life as judgmental as they are.
And believe me, I’ve been bullied by teachers, I’ve been demeaned by teachers, I’ve even been threatened by teachers. However, there is a big difference between a teacher bullying a student and a teacher telling a student that their holier-than-thou attitude is pretentious, judgmental, ignorant, and rude to the other students and needs to stop.
It is also not at all out-of-the-ordinary for a teacher to be frustrated with the fact that they are forced to take responsibility for a group of bullies who refuse to acknowledge that they’re bullies, and whose parents will have the teacher fired if they do anything about the constant verbal attacks they’re hurling at the other students.
My mother was a teacher. My grandfather was a teacher. My sister is a teacher. Many of my friends are teachers. I’ve studied pedagogy pretty extensively, and even taught the occasional class myself.
These students are the bane of a teacher’s existence. These aren’t kids who are constantly getting shit thrown their way for no reason. They aren’t poor, blameless victims who were just going about their lives when the mean-old-rest-of-the-school decided to hate them because they’re not a cheerleader or a football player. Granted, those kids do exist, but they’re not the ones I’m talking about.
These are kids who are great at dishing it out, but can’t handle taking their medicine when someone tells them they’re being a dick, and who need to be told that their words and actions have consequences for other people so that they can learn when their opinions are wanted or warranted, and when they should keep their mouth shut and let other people live their lives.
UPDATE: Required reading is that episode of 30 Rock where Liz Lemon goes back to her class reunion and finds out that everyone was actually initially really willing to be her friend, and that the only reason people started avoiding her and refusing to spend time with her is because she was a merciless bully. Just… go watch that 30 Rock episode please…