New York Magazine has a fantastic article on the psychological impact of high school and how it affects you through your adult life.
It’s a fascinating subject because so much of developmental psychology has focused on childhood and yet our adolescent school years are probably the most formative for our view of the social world.
Not everyone feels the sustained, melancholic presence of a high-school shadow self. There are some people who simply put in their four years, graduate, and that’s that. But for most of us adults, the adolescent years occupy a privileged place in our memories…
Yet there’s one class of professionals who seem, rather oddly, to have underrated the significance of those years, and it just happens to be the group that studies how we change over the course of our lives: developmental neuroscientists and psychologists. “I cannot emphasize enough the amount of skewing there is,” says Pat Levitt, the scientific director for the National Scientific Council on the Developing Child, “in terms of the number of studies that focus on the early years as opposed to adolescence. For years, we had almost a religious belief that all systems developed in the same way, which meant that what happened from zero to 3 really mattered, but whatever happened thereafter was merely tweaking.”
The piece is focussed on the American high school experience, with its weirdly formalised social structure – like a teenage Brave New World, but you can see the universal parallels.
Either way, it’s an excellent article that explores an oddly under stage of development. Recommended.
Link to New York Magazine on ‘Why You Truly Never Leave High School’.