In a generally positive New York Times Magazine story on misfits who choose cyber schools, writer Emily White worries that virtual students miss out on school violence. Many of those she interviewed see school as hostile, coercive, distracting and dangerous. They don’t see the beauty.
Before Columbine, the social Darwinism of the hallway was seen as character-building. Now we effortlessly imagine those ”characters” hiding guns in trench coats, or dead. Promoters of virtual school promise that their Web sites are safe from online predators, and traditional school is portrayed as a haven for bullies, a brutal, corrupted environment in which violent confrontations are bound to occur.
Yet it is also true that there is a beauty in high school: those long, exhausting hours full of other kids, everyone trying to interpret one another. It’s a beauty that Gus Van Sant evokes in his new Columbine-inspired film, ”Elephant” — kids break dancing and taking pictures and making out, even as the school day is headed for darkness.
Some students like the social interaction of school; others can’t handle it or prefer not to or go to schools where the danger is too dangerous to be beautiful.
I see why I’ve been unable to break into the New York Times Magazine. I lack the right mentality.