When you were in high school, how much effort did you expend to seem indifferent, even when you were learning something exciting?
Over the last 6 months, I’ve had two opportunities to teach high schoolers. One was at the high school I attended, a magnet school (a total of 4 sessions). The other was over Skype a few days ago with a small class studying board game design.
Across all 5 sessions, the vast majority of the kids tried incredibly hard to be indifferent. It seemed like something they were doing because of the presence of their peers–they didn’t want to look excited, because that would be bad for their social status. Because it’s not cool to be excited about learning.
Granted, I’m making some assumptions here. It’s entirely possible that some of the kids weren’t actually excited at all, and thus they weren’t faking it. I’m sure their everyday teachers can tell the difference. But as a guest speaker, I had no idea.
It made me think back to my days in high school. Did I do the same thing? Was indifference the norm? I don’t remember acting that way. Sure, I wasn’t equally excited about every class, but even for the subjects that weren’t intriguing to me, the challenge of succeeding was fun.
I genuinely wanted to know more stuff, and I wanted to be good at knowing stuff. I didn’t hide this from my peers, and most of them didn’t hide it either.
Was my school an anomaly? Or has something changed in the last 20 years?