Any society of that type is awful to live in. Showing up for school plays is one thing. Even the newest apprentice could be made to carry messages or sweep the workshop. Why do people move to suburbia? John Nash so admired Norbert Wiener that he adopted his habit of touching the wall as he walked down a corridor. That should be encouraging news to kids and adults both.
We had no such confidence. A woman I know says that in high school she liked nerds, but was afraid to be seen talking to them because the other girls would make fun of her. Because I didn't fit into this world, I thought that something must be wrong with me. After a while, drugs have their own momentum. Beyond that, they want to have as little to do with the prisoners as possible, so they leave them to create whatever social organization they want. Why is the real world more hospitable to nerds? Fourteen-year-olds didn't start smoking pot because they'd heard it would help them forget their problems. You mean she doesn't know the kind of things they say to one another? I'm not claiming that bad schools are the whole reason kids get into trouble with drugs.
I believe we were the only D table in our cafeteria map. Around the age of eleven, though, kids seem to start treating their family as a day job. At best it was practice for real work we might do far in the future, so far that we didn't even know at the time what we were practicing for. Teenage kids used to have a more active role in society. The least popular group is quite small. Bill Gates will of course come to mind.
If life seems awful to kids, it's neither because hormones are turning you all into monsters as your parents believe , nor because life actually is awful as you believe. All other things being equal, they would have preferred to be on the smart side of average rather than the dumb side, but intelligence counted far less than, say, physical appearance, charisma, or athletic ability. Indeed, being in trouble in their family can win them points in the world they care about. The thing is, he'd know enough not to care what they thought. At the schools I went to, the focus of rebellion was drug use, specifically marijuana.
You mean this isn't normal? And in any case, if being smart were really an enviable quality, the girls would have broken ranks. The main reason nerds are unpopular is that they have other things to think about. They're just playing a different game, and a game much closer to the one played in the real world. There is nothing better than watching hot babe teens getting fucked in every hole and watching her lick up a monster load of jizz! In a large enough pool, even the smallest minorities can achieve a critical mass if they clump together. Much of the time we were all, students and teachers both, just going through the motions. So why don't they do something about it? And if they balk at this surreal cocktail, they're called misfits.
The most important thing was to stay on the premises. When the things you do have real effects, it's no longer enough just to be pleasing. Nor does it harm you in the real world. They know, in the abstract, that kids are monstrously cruel to one another, just as we know in the abstract that people get tortured in poorer countries. And most importantly, their status depends on how well they do against opponents, not on whether they can push the other down.
The problem with most schools is, they have no purpose. As a thirteen-year-old kid, I didn't have much more experience of the world than what I saw immediately around me. The answer, I think, is that they don't really want to be popular. Nerds aren't the only losers in the popularity rat race. The kids who got praised for these qualities tended to be at best dull-witted prize bulls, and at worst facile schmoozers.
The cause of this problem is the same as the cause of so many present ills: specialization. If someone had told me that at the time, I would have laughed at him. No doubt some of the freaks ultimately used drugs to escape from other problems-- trouble at home, for example. Before that, kids' lives are dominated by their parents, not by other kids. Sometimes the current even starts to flow in the other direction: sometimes, particularly in university math and science departments, nerds deliberately exaggerate their awkwardness in order to seem smarter.