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School Snobs - A Commentary

By Scott Spreier, KERA 90.1 commentator

Dallas, TX – A mom who lives up the street from us recently announced she wanted to start a special Cub Scout Den for her son and a few of his friends. The established den - the one my son belongs to - was, this Mom said, simply "too nerdy."

Come again?

First of all, anyone familiar with Scouting knows that it is by nature a nerdy organization. Ever seen the skits at a campout? Or read the jokes in the back of Boy's Life magazine? Corny? Silly? You bet. That's one of the beauties of Scouts, being able to go out in the woods and do silly, goofy guy things - the sort of little rituals that are an important part of a boy's growing up, but that are totally endangered by most of today's too-organized, too-competitive, too-serious kid activities.

But that's not what upsets me. I'm fed up with that sub-class of parents who from the minute Junior is birthed, tries to make sure that he always at the front of the line. They enroll him in the best school, get him on the best athletic teams, even hire a private coach if necessary. Sadder yet, these parents - more misguided than mature - seek out what they believe is the trendy, in-crowd, and push their little guy or gal to be a part of that group, even if they don't fit in.

Maybe it's because I was never part of the cool crowd, but I find such behavior - the parents', not the kid's - juvenile. Why? Well, for starters, today's cool kids aren't much different than when we were kids. They still tend to lead the way in term of fashion and music trends. But in addition to rock 'n' roll, they're also ahead of the curve when it comes to sex and drugs.

Even worse, though, are the attitudes these children wear as those they purchased them at Abercrombie and Fitch - attitudes that in reality are as old as mankind: snobbery and exclusivity. These underdeveloped children bully other kids verbally and physically, talk trash to their parents, and generally prance around as though they are some sort of child superstars.

What's really pathetic here is that most of us learn fairly young in life the shallowness and silliness of such boorish behavior. By early adulthood, as we start careers and families, we learn that cool is an overrated concept. It's not what group we ran around with, or which school we went to that sets us apart, but who we are in terms of intellect, emotion, and values.

The adults who go furthest in life are those who learned as kids to understand and value the diversity of people and ideas. Those who didn't wind up the narrow-minded, misguided folk who all too often try to justify their average, not-so-cool suburban lives by - that's right - foisting the mantle of "cool" on their kids.

Sadly, one would hope that in today's world, we would have progressed beyond this "I'm better than you are nah, nah, nah, nah, nah" attitude - an attitude that has led to countless wars and other acts of aggression and injustice throughout the ages, not to mention innumerable schoolyard squabbles and adolescent hurt feelings. But of course, we haven't. And we won't, as long as adults who know better think they and their children are better.

Scott Spreier lives in Dallas.