High School Sadism

Jennifer Senior has an entertaining (and deliciously illustrated) piece in New Yorkmagazine about the toxic effects of high school. She makes a great point about the tendency of “experts” to focus on childhood (which is critical for academic learning)—and their relative silence about the importance high school, which shapes people’s personalities and neuroses in all kinds of horrible ways.

My one question is: Couldn’t high school be less toxic? Senior doesn’t get into this, suggesting that the problem is endemic to grouping large numbers of strangers together in one building. I don’t know if I buy that; I think there are probably huge degrees of toxicity, just as their are in different families or offices.

I would love to know what makes one high school more sadistic than another…

EducationAmanda Ripley