I suddenly realized that I don’t need to bring all my files with me across the country—that there is this wacky new way to keep track of valuable reading material, and that the actual paper can go to Milo so that he can draw car carriers and house-faces on the backsides.
Sorting through everything, I’ve found a lot I want to share with you, which can be sorted into three categories: the sociology of middle schoolers, journalism I love and teacher quality.
Let’s start with the kids, whose friendships I spent many years analyzing:
—A 1993 study from Sociology of Education that I always want to give to the awkwardest sixth-grade boys I meet, except that I know it won’t make them feel better at the time. The point of it is that things can turn out pretty good for the nerds. Which anyone who has gone to a 20th high school reunion will tell you is true. They are hot, and they married well! (Not that I am biased.)
—A 2000 study from Developmental Psychology about how jerks are overrepresented among the popular boys. (Not that I am surprised.)
—A 1998 report from the Archives of Pediatric & Adolescent Medicine that showed how clueless middle schoolers’ parents were went it came to the risky behaviors their kids were exposed to.
—A 1995 study from Youth & Society about the relationship between sports and popularity. For boys, athletic participation is pretty much necessary, though not sufficient, for popularity.
—A 1998 study from Child Development links social acceptance in youth to feelings of self-worth in adulthood. As you probably could have guessed.
Let’s sum up. You don’t want your kid to be totally rejected in middle school, but you don’t want him to be a jerk either. Do you?