Friday, November 20, 2015

Palm Trees, Vikings, and Bullying (oh my)

        A few weeks ago, we had a counseling lesson on cliques.

       If you have one counseling lesson, you've had them all. I had a counseling lesson on cliques in fifth grade, and the only thing that was different about the one in eighth grade was the lack of a picture book.

        Counseling lessons are all about things we already know. Don't be mean, accept each others' differences, the smallest acts of kindness are important, blah, blah, blah. And they're all taught through the use of some highly irrelevant activity, i.e., looking at a picture of a palm tree and a picture of a Viking and brainstorming ways they are similar (which, yes, we actually had to do).

        Anyway, this particular one was supposed to get us ready for Mix It Up Day, a highly unpopular yearly tradition at my school. The period before lunch, students get armbands from their teachers, which are given out randomly. Each armband is a different color, so when you get to the cafeteria, you sit at the table marked with your color and complete an endlessly boring, useless activity with the other people there. It's meant to get you to hang out with new people and to promote teamwork. The counselors always come in shortly before Mix It Up Day and spend a whole class period lecturing us on making sure the whole group is involved and working as a team. It's basically telling introverts (people who prefer to be alone and work better independently, like me) that they need to meet new people and learn to "collaborate" (a word I have come to loathe with all my heart, they've told it to me so many times), or they won't succeed in life.

        Ironically, it's also about accepting each others' differences.

      I had a doctor's appointment that day and was fortunate enough to miss the last ten minutes of this lecture. The rest I was forced to endure like everybody else.

        So I tuned out the first ten minutes of "respect everyone's differences" and waited for the eighth-grade counselor to get to the worksheet that would undoubtedly come. When it came, it was a five-question survey we had to fill out by ourselves.

1. How often do you sit with the same people at lunch?

a) Always
b) Sometimes
c) Rarely

        We have assigned seats. Granted, we get to choose them, but then we have to sit there all the time - so they can "find us". (Whenever they're looking for someone in the lunchroom, they call them over the microphone anyway, by the way, so I don't know why they bother.)

2. Your friend group usually _____ other people.

a) Makes fun of
b) Ignores
c) Welcomes

    Depends on the people.

3. You usually feel _____ about meeting new people.

a) Annoyed
b) Nervous
c) Excited

    Um…all of the above, like most people on Earth…?

     (In case you can’t tell, the “right” answers are the C's.)

4. When you make a decision, you tend to weigh the opinions of:

a) Your friends
b) Your family
c) Yourself

    Well, obviously, I weigh my own opinions, but, depending on the decision, I may also ask my friends and/or family. It depends on the people who will be impacted by the decision.

    I don’t remember the fifth question. But, basically, you get the gist. If you answered mostly A's, you were supposed to look at your circle of friends and ask yourself if you’re in a clique. If you answered mostly B's, you were supposed to try to think for yourself a little more.

    Funny…whenever I “think for myself” around teachers, I get in trouble.

    Go figure.

1 comment:

  1. Very well written; enough so to bring back the horrible memories of school. The endless, repetitive lectures, the "no right answer" questions, the senseless, conflicting rules. All the frustration.
    Om the bright side, for most of us the world changes tremendously after school. Especially when it comes to collaboration, which I also loathe.
    Again, very well done.