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.

15 Inspiring Quotes About Teachers

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iStock.com/skynesher

Next to parents, teachers may be the most influential figures we'll ever have in our lives. In honor of Teacher Appreciation Week, we're taking a look at some of the most evocative quotes about these beloved educators.

  1. "The dream begins, most of the time, with a teacher who believes in you, who tugs and pushes and leads you on to the next plateau, sometimes poking you with a sharp stick called truth." —Dan Rather, Journalist
  1. "The test of a good teacher is not how many questions he can ask his pupils that they will answer readily, but how many questions he inspires them to ask him which he finds it hard to answer.” —Alice Wellington Rollins, Author
  1. "I like a teacher who gives you something to take home to think about besides homework.” —Lily Tomlin, Actress
  1. "Most of us end up with no more than five or six people who remember us. Teachers have thousands of people who remember them for the rest of their lives.” —Andy Rooney, Journalist
  1. "There's no word in the language I revere more than teacher. My heart sings when a kid refers to me as his teacher, and it always has. I've honored myself and the entire family of man by becoming a teacher." —Pat Conroy, Author
  1. "… It is a greater work to educate a child, in the true and large sense of that phrase, than to rule a state.” —William Ellery Channing, Preacher and Theologian
  1. "The future of the world is in my classroom today, a future with the potential for good or bad ... Several future presidents are learning from me today; so are the great writers of the next decades, and so are all the so-called ordinary people who will make the decisions in a democracy. I must never forget these same young people could be the thieves and murderers of the future. Only a teacher? Thank God I have a calling to the greatest profession of all! I must be vigilant every day, lest I lose one fragile opportunity to improve tomorrow." —Ivan Welton Fitzwater, Educator
  1. "Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire." —Source Unknown, sometimes attributed to William Butler Yeats, Poet
  1. "I have come to believe that a great teacher is a great artist and that there are as few as there are any other great artists. Teaching might even be the greatest of the arts since the medium is the human mind and spirit." —John Steinbeck, Author
  1. "Teaching is the greatest act of optimism.” —Colleen Wilcox, Educator
  1. "A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops." —Henry Brooks Adams, Historian
  1. "Technology is just a tool. In terms of getting the kids working together and motivating them, the teacher is the most important." Bill Gates, Technologist and Philanthropist
  1. "The art of teaching is the art of assisting discovery." —Mark Van Doren, Poet
  1. "I think the teaching profession contributes more to the future of our society than any other single profession." —John Wooden, Athlete and Coach
  1. "Teachers, I believe, are the most responsible and important members of society because their professional efforts affect the fate of the Earth." —Helen Caldicott, Physician and Author

Updated for 2019.

Texas Is the Latest State to Bring Cursive Writing Back to Its School Curriculums

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iStock.com/narvikk

The 2000s weren't a great decade for cursive handwriting. As computers became mainstream, many school districts dropped cursive lessons in favor of keyboard proficiency. But in recent years, the trend has been moving in the opposite direction, and Texas is the latest state to reinstate cursive writing in its public schools, ABC 25 reports.

Because Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (the state's curriculum standards for grades K through 12) didn't require it, cursive has been absent from many Texas classrooms for years. In 2017, the State Board of Education made it mandatory, but the new requirement won't take effect until the 2019 to 2020 school year. Starting with next year's second-grade class, all grade schoolers in Texas's public school system must be taught to write legible cursive by fifth grade.

Though opponents argue that learning cursive is a waste of time in the digital age, supporters of the writing style say it promotes clearer thinking. Elizabeth Giniewicz, executive director of elementary curriculum for the Temple Independent School District in Texas, tells ABC 25, "It's important that our kids are able to communicate through the written word and through the spoken word."

Texas is just one state that's reversed its stance on teaching cursive. Ohio came out in favor of cursive in 2018, making it mandatory starting in kindergarten.

[h/t ABC 25]

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