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I can't complain but sometimes I still do

Monday, August 28, 2006

Shameless self-promotion: Seven lessons about schoool you can take from school movies


School movies are never praised for their realism. In fact, most people think school movies are downright fakey. But those people are wrong. School movies speak the truth.

Popular kids worry about having to act cool all the time. Nerdy kids are one makeover away from being sexy. Every college is evenly split between rich snobs and crazy party animals. All true, all situations regularly featured in movies.

With the school year looming, we went back to some of our favorite school movies to find valuable lessons for surviving the next nine months of full-time learning. Here are seven of the most important school movie truisms.

Keep extracurriculars to a minimum

There is more to school than going to class. There also are extracurricular activities like sports, plays and hanging out at the mall. But don’t let the extras get in the way of your studies. Consider Max Fischer, the protagonist in “Rushmore.” A partial list of Max’s extracurriculars include: French Club, Model United Nations, Stamp and Coin Club, Fencing Club, the Yankee Racers go-kart club, Trap and Skeet Club and his theater group, the Max Fischer Players. Max also spends a lot of time with Bill Murray. The packed schedule causes him to flunk out of school. The lesson? Go with one or two extracurriculars, particularly the Trap and Skeet Club and Bill Murray.

“My” time vs. “our” time

Since the dawn of school, teachers have admonished chatting and spit-balling students for wasting “my” time in the classroom. Students, in turn, say classroom time is really “our” time. So, who is right? The answer can be found in “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” when Jeff Spicoli tries to order a pizza during Mr. Hand’s history class. (Watch above YouTube clip.) Not only does Spicoli lose his pizza, but Mr. Hand shows up later in Spicoli’s bedroom to make up for “my” time being wasted in class. There is no way around it: The “my” timers win, kids.

How to win a school election

Every year the popular kids pretend to be politicians in the school’s student government election. It’s a dreary exercise few non-popular kids enjoy, so a budding JFK is well advised to liven things up by cribbing from perhaps the best school election speech ever given by angsty teen Tammy Metzler (played by Jessica Campbell) in “Election.”

“Who cares about this election?” Metzler asks, recalling the righteous power of Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. “The same pathetic charade happens every year and everyone makes the same pathetic promises just so they can put it on their college transcripts. As president, I won’t do anything. The only promise I will make is if elected, I will immediately dismantle student government so that none of us will have to sit through one of these stupid assemblies again.” Promise that and you are a shoo-in to be the next class prez.

Read the rest here.

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