Monday, June 25, 2012

Book Review: The Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth by Alexandra Robbins

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Title: The Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth: Popularity, Quirk Theory and Why Outsiders Thrive After High School
Author: Alexandra Robbins
Publisher: Hyperion
Hardcover: 396 pages
Summary: (taken from Goodreads)
When school lunchroom doors open, hungry students rush in, searching for tables where they wouldn't be outsiders. Of course, in middle school and high school, almost everyone is an outsider: the nerds, the new girls, the band geeks, the loners; even the "popular" cheerleaders. Alexandra Robbins' The Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth takes us inside the hallways of real schools to show us how shifting cliques and permanent marginalization affect children. Following individual students over the course of a year, she tracks the plight and possibilities of self-confessed nerds, freaks, punks, Goths, and weirdos. Her central message is heartening: Our increasingly homogenized society ultimately needs and welcomes the cafeteria fringe.

Overall Rating: 5/5

This should be required reading in high schools. I think all teachers and people involved in education should take a look at this too, because changing how teenagers are treated has to start at all levels. It is sad how many teenagers feel lonely and depressed because of who they are and how they feel. What this book does is identify a lot of the problems that causes bullying and exclusion tactics, and I think that if teenagers read stories about how their actions affect others, they would try to be nicer and more accepting of other groups.

Now, there aren't any hard statistics of the successes of geeks and outcasts after high school. If you're looking for numbers that prove that high school outcasts make more money and get the best jobs, this isn't what this is about. Instead, Robbins focuses on the traits that make teenagers outcasts in the first place and goes onto describe how these same traits will serve them better in a job or in adult life.

I really liked the setup of this book. Instead of being bombarded by all the psychology stuff at once, Robbins splits it up between the stories of the case studies and uses what's going on in a certain person's life as a foundation for explaining all the whys and hows of the behavior exhibited by students and teachers. Switching off between students' stories and psychology/sociology explanation gave my brain a break, which I appreciated.

Besides that, The Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth is simply interesting. This is a book about what is going on at our schools today, and some of it is simply horrifying. Teachers playing favorites and allowing "populars" to rule the school, teachers having cliques themselves, schools not celebrating accomplishments of academic teams, etc. Becoming aware of the problem is the first step, and these things really do need to change. On top of that, I felt a strong connection with all the people Robbins does case studies on, even though I'd never really had those same experiences. But, I think they just laid all their emotions out on the line, which made made me really feel for their situation. Robbins gives good advice for how to treat other people and how to make all students feel self-worth. If you work at a school, or if you're interested in why people act the way they do, definitely pick this book up. It's a great read.