1. AlgaeNymph
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    AlgaeNymph New Member

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    What is high school and teenage life like?

    Discussion in 'Research' started by AlgaeNymph, Sep 14, 2010.

    As an asocial graduate of special, I've only the vaguest idea what public high school is like. Since I plan on writing about a high school setting I need to know this.

    So, what do people do in high school? What do students do besides class? What do staff and teachers do besides classes? What actually is taught in class?

    On a more meta level, I'd also like to know what questions I should ask lest I get the "I don't quite know what you're asking" runaround. Well in this case, I want to what makes teen..."teenagery" compared to adults.
     
  2. w176
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    w176 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Why write that genre when you on really unfamiliar territory and its an area all people expect you are so familiar with that it will be extremely hard to fake it?

    I'm sure a spin on you own background would be more fascinating to read if you wrote it.
     
  3. jo spumoni
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    jo spumoni Active Member

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    It's hard to describe to someone who's never been there, but I'll do my best.

    Where I live, high schools generally run on 1 of 2 schedules: 1) 6 classes a day, 5 days a week; 2) 6 classes 1 day a week (usually Monday or Friday), 3 classes (alternating odds and evens) per day 4 days a week (so, e.g., Tuesday, you have periods 1,3,5 and Wednesday you have periods 2,4,6). The 2nd is called "Block Schedule" and on every day except the one day you have all 6 classes, each class is around 2 hours. The first is called "Tradition Schedule," and each class is roughly an hour long.

    Basically, high school is where teens test out a whole bunch of different personalities and do stupid things prompted by hormones. So girls will hang out in little clusters and giggle about boys and discuss what they're doing in classes and when the dance is going to be. I don't know much about what the guys did, cause I had very few guy friends, but they're less verbal than the girls. I never really saw anyone get beaten up or anything like that, although there was a little dweeby kid in my orchestra class who used to get trashcanned all the time.

    High school is full of funny little crowds and cliques, but not like the movies or shows make it look. Our high school had no definite "Popular" crowd or "Jock" clique or anything like that. We had cliques but they were more fluid than that, and they were heavily determined by where you ate lunch and who was in your class. Our group used to hang out outside by a little area with grass and a big tree near the back of the school. There were perhaps fifteen of us, though I never counted and people would often come in and out to just sort of stop by. We were mostly girls, but there were a couple of guys, mainly people's boyfriends. We'd eat and talk about what we did that day and what we were doing over the weekend. There was one really strange guy who had asberger's syndrome and used to like to discuss philosophy and religion with me, which I always kind of enjoyed.

    High school also has a lot of extracurricular activities. Sports leap readily to mind, but I can't tell you much about them because I'm very unathletic. It seems like there's two types of athletes: 1) those who are very serious and want to get scholarships, 2) those who want to escape PE and know they can do it by taking a sport. I never escaped PE--I had to take my 2 semesters as was required. Other extracurricular activities include band and orchestra--I was the latter. Orch is just strings, btw. I play violin. It's hard to overestimate the amount of drama that occurred in orch class, beginning with the seating ("chairs" are a ranking system--"First chair" means you're the best) and ending with our teacher's tendency to choose favorites. Band gets made fun of mercilessly, especially marching band 'cause of the uniforms, but people kind of forget about orchestra. Drama was also very popular at my school. Our class even performed A Streetcar Named Desire, which was pretty gutzy for a high school class.

    I have to go now...but thanks for bringing up my nostalgia.
     
  4. Peerie Pict
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    Peerie Pict Contributing Member Contributor

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    Weren't you a teenager once? There isn't a common shared experience of high school. Views on high school are as varied as the people who attend.

    You aren't going to get full and useful answers here. You need to seek out novels about teenagers coming of age - perhaps look at documentaries/films or websites where teenagers post messages. If you do enough research you shouldn't go wrong. Like w176 said though, if you feel completely in the dark about it, perhaps you should write about something you feel more knowledgeable about.
     
  5. Julianna
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    Julianna New Member

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    It's difficult to explain what High School is like because it changes so much depending on the person experiencing it. It depends so much on the type of character(s) you are building. Do you want them to be nerdy or popular? Do you what them to get along with everyone for the most part or be the social outcast with a few close friends? Are you wanting them to go to a school in a richer area where they offer more classes and opportunity or a little school in a poorer community? Do they have dress code or no dress code? Are you wanting them to go year around or fall/winter off for spring/summer? There are some in variables in the high school experience that it's almost impossible to explain.
     
  6. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Exactamundo.

    Your readers may easily overlook it if you don't know exactly what life is like for an astronaut in training, but if you are relying on secondhand information to write about life as a high school student, you might as well be trying to sprint up a mountain of ball bearings.

    Why not write about an environment more familiar to you?
     
  7. Tessie
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    Tessie Contributing Member Contributor

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    AlgaeNymph, do you have any younger people in the family whom you can ask for help? Maybe that is the best place to start. My writing is based on a different time in history so I have to acquaint myself as much as I possibly can with the lifestyle, but the way I get my info is by books, books, and more books. Hopefully you can hear it straight from the mouth of others. :)
     
  8. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    i have to echo those who caution against writing about a setting you have no knowledge of at all... research alone won't help much in this case...
     
  9. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    Why not watch things like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, High School Musical, Sister Act 2, etc on youtube if you haven't experienced something you can always write a slight caricature. Done well that will work fine.
     
  10. kaylynwrong
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    kaylynwrong Member

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    Can you tell us more about your characters? Are they drama kids, choir kids, band kids, emo kids, art kids, nerdy kids, smart kids, tech kids, etc.? What do you want them to be like? If you have drama or choir kids, I can tell you all about that. And stoners-I was around lots.
     
  11. AlgaeNymph
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    AlgaeNymph New Member

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    More familiar to me, hmm.

    I'm familiar with special ed schools, and half of the teens there seem typical enough. Given the real problems they have a comedy based that environment would be rather cruel.

    I'm familiar with college classes, but not much with anything beyond that. I know squat about clubs, groups, memberships, and so forth.

    Perhaps I should explain why I went for a high school setting.
     
  12. jo spumoni
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    jo spumoni Active Member

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    I disagree. I think a book in which you were honest about the everyday travails of living with a disability could be very fascinating if it were authentic. I am NOT suggesting you make fun of disabilities, of course; but it could be very interesting if you wrote a book that was not sappy about teens with disabilities. The world should recognize that living with a disability can, at times, be humorous. My elder brother is severely autistic but he is one of the funniest people I've ever met. For instance, he can't really read but he likes to repeat things off the TV. Once, he started singing the "Oscar Mayer Bologna Song", but he didn't know how to spell Oscar or Mayer, so instead he sang, "My bologna has a first name, it's L-O-P-E-Y. My bologna has a second name, it's L-E-P-O-U." We were laughing about it for weeks because he had inadvertently named his bologna Lopey Lepou, which sounded vaguely French.

    Sorry to tangent. I do that when it's a subject I'm interested in. Happy writing.
     
  13. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    I have dyspraxia quite frankly it does give plenty of opportunity for humour as do the other various complications I have to go with it:)
     
  14. AlgaeNymph
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    AlgaeNymph New Member

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    So less Daria and more Azumanga then. Not what I was going for but a good idea to consider regardless.
     
  15. MissPomegranate
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    MissPomegranate Member

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    If you want to write about what High School is really like,stay away from movies and TV!

    I'm a high school junior, so I I guess I'm an "expert" on it right now, haha.

    Most people have about 7 classes in my school (give or take a few; some are semester courses, some do a kind of "independent research" class of their own design, and some take less than that)
    Classes generally consist of: an english (generally specific to one grade, unlike most other courses), a math, a science, a history/government, a foreign language, and art/music/extra courses. Extras can range to computers, home economics, sociology, photo, cooking, woodshop, and so much more. And, of course, there's always study hall. Classes can be AP, Honors, or regular. AP and Honors have weighted grades, AP being more weighted of the two.

    When teachers aren't teaching, a lot of them will either eat lunch, go to meetings, or meet with students who need help. My school has a "math lab" and "writing lab" that teachers work in during their off times.
    Student in higher grades can leave school if they don't have class if the school is "open campus" like mine is.

    Outside of school, there's tons of clubs. They can be anything; clubs devoted to languages (Spanish, Latin, etc.), chess club, drama club, writers club. They can get random too...my school has a sledding club.
    In addition to clubs, sports take up a lot of time.
    Band/choir/orchestra is huge in my school. We have a show choir and our Jazz Band meets after school, as does our Chamber Orchestra, which is the best of the best in our school. Marching band is huge too, and practices can take hours.

    That's a lot of writing, but if you need any more info you can PM me and I'll be glad to provide any other info you might need!
     

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