The All-American School Experience

This week we visited Gabriella's soon-to-be school. She sat dutifully through the parents' meeting, only talking above a whisper 75% of the time. Then she packed up her books and excitedly hopped up for the school tour.

She was so thrilled, in fact, she seemed to have misunderstood and thought they asked her to lead the school tour. I spent most of the time saying, "Gabriella, please come back here. Stand near me." The rest of the time, I tried to pretend I hadn't brought my kid with me and who was that crazy child announcing misinformation about what we were seeing?

My favorite was when we walked through the middle school hallway, which was lined with grey lockers. "This is the where the high schoolers are," Gabriella bellowed for all to hear. "And I know that because of these." [Insert grand, sweeping gesture to the lockers.] "High schoolers use these."

Well, I can only assume that knowledge came from a "movie night" phase we went through with High School Musical. Apparently, it made a huge impression on Gabriella. (Not only does she know all when it comes to lockers, but it really bothers her when I wear red tennies because those are "boy shoes." It seems Zac Efron wears some bright Converse, and he and I are basically one in the same.)

That movie also made an impression on Billy. At one point, he asked me, "Was this what your high school was like?" Oh, how I wish. Choreographed dance numbers? Sign. Me. Up. But alas, it wasn't to be.

It's interesting sometimes to realize how much Hollywood speaks for Americans to the rest of the world. Gossip Girl. One Tree Hill. Clueless. And whatever-is-popular-now. These teenagers and their schools are held up as the quintessential American experience. But how true is that?

Movies and TV hardly replicate my own memories of high school. The closest representation for me would probably be Friday Night Lights. You? I have a feeling the majority of what's out there is not a true picture of the average American experience.

Much of Hollywood's school culture certainly won't represent my daughter's experience. She is a Guatemalan-American girl attending a predominately black school where everyone - Kindergarten through 8th grade - spends an hour a day studying Mandarin.

And in some ways, her diverse, mashup classroom may actually be the new all-American school experience. The curriculum highlights our global world and encourages students to be internationally minded. Perhaps, in our globalizing world, Hollywood's picture is a little outdated. And personally, I think it would be fun to see a class like my daughter's featured on the big screen. If anyone has any Hollywood connections, feel free to connect me to pitch this idea!

What TV or movie best represents your high school experience? How is it different (or the same) from your kids'?

P.S. This post was partially inspired from an episode of The Popcast about Hollywood high schools. You can find it here.

Photo credit: Gordon Lew

No comments

Post a Comment

I love to hear from you! Like, seriously. It makes my day. Please feel free to respond, question, or add your perspective. Of course, please keep your words respectful. Thanks for reading and joining in the conversation!

A Life with Subtitles. All rights reserved. © Maira Gall.