Take Heart, Nerds—Science Says the Cool Kids Don't Stay Cool

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iStock

We have good news for young dweebs dreading returning to school: The cool kids in middle school don't stay that way. According to a longitudinal study that followed a group of American kids for 10 years, from ages 13 to 23, kids who get into minor trouble as 7th and 8th graders become less popular as their peers mature and begin to think things like shoplifting and getting drunk are less cool.

As noted in the study, published in Child Development, the adolescent use of behaviors such as minor delinquency or precocious romantic involvement to appear mature or "cool" among peers has long been recognized in both research and popular culture, from Rebel Without a Cause to Mean Girls. Unfortunately for the cool kids, the social cachet of rebellion doesn't last.

The study followed 184 youngsters into adulthood, finding that kids who exhibited minor delinquent behaviors in middle school of the kind that often impress other teens tend to be less well-adjusted in the long run. Kids who sneaked into movies or stole things from their parents; who dated more people; and who placed more importance on physical attractiveness as a prerequisite for friendship were by their early 20s less popular and rated less socially competent by their peers. Moreover, delinquent behavior in middle school predicted greater levels of drug use and criminal behavior in the future.

"You see the person who was cool … did exciting things that were intimidating and seemed glamorous at the time—and then five or 10 years later, they are working in a menial job and have poor relationships and such," lead author Joseph Allen, a psychology researcher at the University of Virginia, told CNN. "And the other kid—who was quiet and had good friends but didn't really attract much attention and was a little intimidated—is doing great."

Previous research suggests it's the less-mature kids who try to appear older. The researchers hypothesize that for these teens, “pseudomature behaviors replace efforts to develop positive social skills and meaningful friendships and thus leave teens less developmentally mature and socially competent over time.”

That’s not to say that being a little bit of trouble as a teen necessarily damns you for life. This study was based on 184 kids from the southeastern U.S., and 11 dropped out before the researchers made the follow-up in the subjects' early adulthood.

But it does suggest that kids benefit from spending a longer period of time being, well, kids—spending more time having sleepovers with their friends and learning how to interact without the social lubricant of drugs and alcohol. Add that to the substance abuse–prevention curriculum: Hold off on partying for a few more years, and you’ll be more popular in college.

[h/t: The New York Times]

Editor's note: This story originally ran in 2015 and was updated in 2018.

Phoenix High School Builds Laundry Room to Assist Underprivileged Students

harmpeti/iStock via Getty Images
harmpeti/iStock via Getty Images

At Maya High School in Phoenix, Arizona, a large closet off the cafeteria has been converted into a laundry room called “The Missing Sock,” complete with a washing machine, a dryer, and even laundry detergent—no quarters or cards needed.

According to AZFamily, principal John Anderson came up with the idea after realizing that many of the school’s students—more than 30 percent of whom are homeless—were reluctant to even show up for school simply because they didn’t have a way to wash their clothes. After talking to one student in particular, who explained that his family wasn’t providing him with the basic resources he needed in order to succeed in school, Anderson decided it was time for the school itself to step up.

So, with the help of grants from the Leona Group, the Arizona Diamondbacks, and the Fiesta Bowl, Anderson and his colleagues built their own miniature laundromat, much like West Side High School in New Jersey did last year. If similar endeavors elsewhere are any indication, Maya High School could see a pretty significant quantitative impact on attendance: Schools that received appliances from Whirlpool as part of their Care Counts program, for example, saw a two-day rise in attendance rates for chronically absent students and a staggering increase in class participation.

“I come from a homeless background,” Maya High School special projects coordinator (and graduate) Andreya De La Torre told AZFamily. “Coming to school smelling, kids don’t want to be by you. They are talking about you. And it’s just really hard to focus on your education when you are focused on your self-esteem.”

In addition to giving underprivileged kids easy access to clean clothes, “The Missing Sock” is also a symbol of Maya’s commitment to providing its students with more than just academic skills.

“We offer them life skills to teach them things that someone is probably not teaching them on the outside … and to show them love,” De La Torre explained to AZFamily.

“We make them believe in themselves and want to do it for themselves,” Anderson added.

And it doesn’t stop at the laundry room—Maya High School just earned another grant from the Arizona Diamondbacks, which Anderson will use to install showers in the school, too.

[h/t AZFamily]

New Jersey Is the Latest State to Push for Cursive in the Classroom

Ridofranz/iStock via Getty Images
Ridofranz/iStock via Getty Images

If you happen to have spent some time with kids who graduated from elementary school in the last decade or so, you may notice they have little idea how to form the graceful Gs and 2-shaped Qs of cursive—or any other cursive letter, for that matter. The cursive alphabet was cut from the Common Core curriculum in 2010, and it’s been making those of us who learned it feel old ever since.

However, a number of states—most recently, Texas—have elected to reintroduce cursive into schools in the last few years, and New Jersey is hoping to follow suit. According to WPEC, Assemblywoman Angela McKnight is sponsoring a bill that would require students to master reading and writing in cursive by the end of third grade.

“Our world has indeed become increasingly dependent on technology, but how will our students ever know how to read a scripted font on a Word document, or even sign the back of a check, if they never learn to read and write in cursive?” McKnight asked in a press release. “This bill will ensure every young student in New Jersey will have this valuable skill to carry with them into adulthood.”

Opponents could make the argument that physical checks and scripted fonts are well on their way to becoming relics of the past right alongside cursive literacy, but it’s not just real-world applications that make learning the loopy alphabet such a valuable skill.

“Some research suggests that learning to read and write in cursive benefits the development of cognitive, motor, and literacy skills,” the bill says. “In addition, instruction in cursive handwriting has been associated with improved academic outcomes for students with learning disabilities such as dyslexia.”

It may also increase your SAT scores, improve your spelling, and more—read about its other benefits here.

[h/t WPEC]

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