According to Orenstein and Kimmel, what does it mean to be a girl or a boy in middle and high school? What is the hidden curriculum? How does that differ from the taught curriculum?
“Kannus!” The boys bellow at the brown haired cherub walking down the hall. Chris Kannus smiles hesitantly, almost painfully, playing along with the game. He knows the game well. He plays along for his safety. For his sanity. Despite the fact that both hang tenuously thin.
The boys, his friends, will taunt him in the name of friendship, and he is supposed to pretend to be stupid enough to believe that they are friends. For if he doesn’t, what they do might be worse than what they already do:
1) They use his last name only. He is not Chris Kannus, he is Kannus. A nickname, but one used so frequently and so deragatorially, it becomes an insult rather than an epithet.
2) They shout his name loudly and repetitively whenever he is within three feet of a female.
2) They use his name for characters in their stories in classes. Always under the guise of innocence, but the repetition of his name, the use of it as a character they control and turn grotesque, mocks him.
3) They turn his name into a verb: “Dang! I just Kannused that test.”
4) They turn his name into a derogative word: “don’t be such a Kannus.”
5) He will be the one they jump on, they wrestle with, they steal his books, they “playfully punch” just a little too hard. They do this in the name of friendship, saying to teachers who intervene, “this is how guys show they like each other” or in the name of retribution, “he’s so annoying; he’s always bothering us.”
He knows it’s not friendship because they don’t do this to anyone else. Just him.
More. More. More. Every day. Relentless. It’s worse because he has to pretend to like it. They’re his friends. And if they’re not, he doesn’t have any friends.
And he will play along. Chris Kannus will say nothing to his teachers. He’ll say nothing to his peers. He must pretend that he believes that they’re being friendly when they’re really exerting dominance. He is the lowest on the pecking order. Who knows why. Maybe because he is too tall. Maybe because he walks a little slowly. Maybe because he wore the wrong color shirt or said the wrong thing in class.
What an incredibly powerless position he’s been maneuvered into. The full nelson of bullying. Bullying under the guise of rituals of “guy” friendship.
He knows it won’t stop. So he changes schools.
I think it’s time to change the school culture, instead.