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High school geeks - from the trenches.

By ObeseWhale in Op-Ed
Tue Dec 05, 2000 at 10:12:05 PM EST
Tags: Culture (all tags)

While schools celebrate the skills of their athletes, musicians, and straight-A scholars. Often times the skills and talents of our "geeks" are not only forgotten, but looked down upon. Is this an innocent overlooking, or is it linked to a widespread fear and misunderstanding of computer-literate students? The goal of this article is not to complain about the facts, but to find a social cause for them. The view from the perspective of an American high school Junior.

ObeseWhale's note: Despite a recent article discouraging the use of "geek" as a classification for the computer literate, I feel we are a definitive group of people, especially in high school, and thus I use the term liberally in this piece.

Each day as I walk through the hallways of my high school in the suburban environment of Midland, Michigan, I am exposed to countless banners and slogans splayed across the walls. Some of them inform me of the evils of dealing in drugs, while others inform me of my duty to enlist in the armed forces so that I may learn to kill others as a showing of my American pride. Still others show off the heroes of our time; the basketball players, successful businessmen, and even once in a while a glamorous scientist. Indeed, just about everybody is represented in the walls of my school. Everyone except the computer geek.

Some may say that this lack of celebration of geek achievements is completely understandable. Most people have never heard the name Richard Stallman, let alone understand him or the revolution he has fathered. Then again, we could turn to examples of "geeks" that are well-known in our society. Bill Gates, whether you like the guy or not, has accomplished quite a bit as a businessman and a geek, and yet we sure don't see any celebration of his genius on the wall.

This apathy towards geeks, our culture, our accomplishments, and our heroes on the walls of our schools are only a very minor symptom of the disease, however. The seeds of what seems to be a social vilification of geeks have become apparent to me among the administration of my high school. And from what I've heard from friends across North America, I'm not alone.

Geeks are some of the most exotically talented children and teenagers in this country, and yet we not only tend to be downcast and scapegoated by our peers, but by the adults surrounding us as well. Need an example? I've got plenty...

Several times during this school year and last I have been called down to the office for violating unwritten rules with the computers. Once I wrote a tool for making command-line "net sends" user-friendly as a project in my Visual Basic class. I sent the school administrator a message that said "hello", and immediately had my account removed as a result. On yet another occasion, my parents recieved a call because I was "exploring places I shouldn't be". In particular, I had Windows Explorer open (it's in our start menu), and was using it to launch the cmd.exe DOS prompt, another no-no.

Luckily, the consequences of my actions were muted when my father was quick to point out that I never violated any of the rules in our fair use policy. Indeed, I was helping students communicate, learning some neat programming tricks, and simply using an interface offered to us that I preferred.

I got off lucky, but I know my plight is not shared by other high school students.

A friend of mine had his account permanently removed for opening up a DOS prompt, and he had never read the use policy to know that he had never violated a rule. Other students I know got phone-calls home for innocent deeds such as browsing security websites and (gasp) telnetting into their computers at home to use the C compilers there.

The question is not "if" high school geeks are despised for their skill, it is "why"? I would like to think that our society is beyond the point of scapegoating and pointing fingers at others for their intelligence, but it sure seems that this is what is going on. It appears as though we are feared by our school administrations because we "know too much" about how to work a box. Is this a common case of the mass media's constant barrage of reports on "hackers" inciting fear in school officials, or is there a more sinister social cause behind this all? I would also like to know whether this odd form of outcasting is common in other cultures such as those of easter Europe or Asia.


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Have you been a victim of suspicion by high school staff?
o Yes, quite often. 27%
o Once or twice. 28%
o Never happened. 22%
o My high-school didn't have computers. 9%
o Geeks were celebrated in my school! 6%
o I'm not a geek. 6%

Votes: 208
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o Also by ObeseWhale

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High school geeks - from the trenches. | 184 comments (169 topical, 15 editorial, 0 hidden)
+1, main page (3.37 / 16) (#3)
by maynard on Tue Dec 05, 2000 at 05:39:55 PM EST

This is well written and offers a glimpse of the constraints computing students must face in high school life. While in my day I experienced the same kind of kafkaesque rules imposed by the staff, it was with the school PDP-11/34. They banned me from the computer room without cause when they found out I had built my own PDP-11 and was running it in my basement. This is the kind of idiocy you can expect from your local high school administration... frankly, if you're smart and already programming I'd suggest jumping straight to college. Though Universities have their own political nightmares you'll have to face, at least they don't have autocratic authority over your very person. High school is probably the most demeaning experience I've ever faced; even at age 32 I still haven't forgotten how much I hated the administration.

Sorry for the depressing note, but I did like your article.
J. Maynard Gelinas

Read The Proxies, a short crime thriller.

PDP 11 in the basement (4.00 / 1) (#100)
by farmgeek on Wed Dec 06, 2000 at 11:23:02 AM EST

You have got to tell me how you managed that one. Were they salvaged parts, home made or were you loaded. I'm seriously curious as I'm thinking of building a electro mechanical relay based computer just for the heck of it, but a PDP might be more enjoyable.

[ Parent ]
Geeks vs Jocks (3.57 / 14) (#5)
by Smiling Dragon on Tue Dec 05, 2000 at 05:48:22 PM EST

I imagine most of the reason why Jocks are favoured on the school walls is becasue they are favoured in teh population. 'I wanna be like Mike' is a little more popular a slogan than 'NetBSD: Secure out of the box'.

This in turn I'd put down to plain old selective breeding, same reason we are scared of spiders and like women with large breasts, or guys with broad shoulders and big muscles. Those with those characteristics survived while those without died.

The child that thought the spider was fun tended to get bitten and die before they could breed. The puny (and quite possibly smart) could not defend themselves from the stronger and more agile and they could not hunt as well. So they didn't prosper.

That's the problem, put a geek and a jock along in a room with nothing and say only one can leave alive... Guess the outcome. People still like the survivors.

Because we got medicine and society along with the clever thinkers we no longer evolve in that way, the puny and weak are supported by the strong. The deep ingrained tendancies remain but they are slowly fading.

I predict that in the next 5,10,15 generations, the computers geeks will gain poularity and the schools will celebrate them as heros along with the jocks and the wealthy.

-- Sometimes understanding is the booby prize - Neal Stephenson
But it goes further (3.28 / 7) (#8)
by ObeseWhale on Tue Dec 05, 2000 at 05:53:46 PM EST

As I mentioned in the article, this goes beyond who becomes a hero and who isn't. High school achievers, students with straight A's, etc. are loved by the staff. Maybe they are not idolized in the school social cesspool, but the administration has no problem with a high achiever. This article is about the mystifying adult reaction towards geeks, and why their achievements are so ridiculously ignored. It seems as if it is a combination of many odd, completely irrational factors.

BTW, OpenBSD is the one that is secure out of the box, not NetBSD :)


"The hunger for liberty may he suppressed for a time; yet never exterminated. Man's natural instinct is for freedom, and no power on earth can succeed in crushing it for very long."
-Alexander Berkman
[ Parent ]
This is true (3.75 / 4) (#25)
by Smiling Dragon on Tue Dec 05, 2000 at 07:16:25 PM EST

I guess fear of that which we don't understand is the problem then :( I never like seeing that around but I think you're right on the mark on this.

And wups, I should check my quotes better in future <grin>.

-- Sometimes understanding is the booby prize - Neal Stephenson
[ Parent ]
Its about value to the school. (1.50 / 2) (#143)
by kwhite on Wed Dec 06, 2000 at 08:37:25 PM EST

Not to be a pain, but of the two things you were doing were either of them a value to the school? I mean athletics puts the school in the spotlight in the eyes of the city/state you are in. Straigh-A/Honor students have value for what they "show" to the academic area of the city/state. You created a IM type program, so what! Did the schoo administrator ask you to IM him when you got it finished. Also why were you opening a Dos prompt. And was that prompt easily accessible. If they had it hidden away or removed then I could understand why the administration got mad. You seem to be complaining about the wanting to be noticed in a good light at the school, well then you must do something within the schools framework to enjoy that.

[ Parent ]
Schools are responsible to students, sir. (4.50 / 2) (#154)
by -Real- on Thu Dec 07, 2000 at 06:08:11 AM EST

While his actions may not have been particularly beneficial to the school they weren't harmful either. But he was scolded for it anyway, and I think that's what he is trying to point out. And I think there is a bit of truth to it. His NetSend to the principle is met with a call home to the 'rents, yet the kid sitting behind me in PoliSci, flicking pencils at the back of my head is politely asked to simply stop? Both events are small and petty, yet the one involving the schools computer is met more aggressively by the administration. From what you're saying it sounds like since he isn't providing any source of revenue to the school (ie: A member of a sports team) then he is therefor useless and deserves being punished for a completely harmless act? Maybe that's why I had so many problems in school...The idea that the school is there to provide me with an education as opposed to me providing them with a good image is CRIMETHINK! At any rate, to address his original question which is _why_ the computer geek is getting such flack is something I can't really answer. But I'm will to bet those reasons are similar to the reason I had alot of trouble for just being atheist.

[ Parent ]
Re: Geeks vs. Jocks (3.25 / 4) (#27)
by Anonymous 7324 on Tue Dec 05, 2000 at 07:18:14 PM EST

the fact is that natural selection used to favor the physically strong back in the days when physical ability was actually of relevance -- the men who ran faster, threw their spears harder, and lifted more weight killed more animals, and got the better women (in whatever sense of the word.)

Since nowadays survival is measured almost completely by earnings, and on average most high school geeks grow up to make far more than most high school jocks, I must concur: the trend will change, and like it or not, the jocks will have to move over and make some room.

[ Parent ]
Gah! (3.00 / 4) (#63)
by Inoshiro on Tue Dec 05, 2000 at 11:29:19 PM EST

OpenBSD is secure out of the box, NetBSD is the one that runs the box (any anything else with processor ;)).

[ イノシロ ]
[ Parent ]
Geeks & Life (3.93 / 30) (#7)
by Signal 11 on Tue Dec 05, 2000 at 05:51:11 PM EST

There's alot of ground to cover here, but I will try to keep this short...

First, high school != real world. Despite what all your teachers say, take it from someone who's been to college, worked a job, and met a whole lot of people - high school is not the real world. Except for the childish behavior (which people continue to engage in, disappointingly, well into their fourties) , there are no similarities. As far as surviving high school - keep a low profile, try not to tell the world you know computers as invariably they will assume you're a hacker out to do the world some kind of great harm (regardless of who you are - in high school they will malign you if you admit this!). Also, larger high schools in metropolitan areas have alot less technophobia than small towns in Hicksville, WI (where I grew up, more or less).

Try to get into advanced placement courses and, if available, get into some college classes while you're still at the high school. If you are in "alternative education / emotionally disturbed / EBD / ED / handicapped" or whatever the latest buzzword is for throwing kids into isolation and calling it progress, there are additional options available for modification of your schedule. Look into them.

Now, about the real world - sadly, the state of geekdom is on the decline. Rapidly, infact. As commercial interests moved online and many geeks got high paying jobs, yuppies have become commonplace, as have people who pretend to be geeks, but are really only good at one or two subfields in the area of computers (ie, they might be able to setup networking hardware fine, but have trouble installing NT4 Server from the CD). In addition, infighting has become common - we seem to eat our own on a regular basis. Redhat, VA Linux, Larry Wall, Linus, *BSD core developers - they're all routinely taken to the slaughterhouse in our online forums. There will no doubt be people on K5 which will reply to this and say it is bunk, and to be fair not every forum and group is like this - however it is becoming increasingly difficult to find people I can call hackers in the pure sense of the word, and I attribute this to the general decline of the so-called "geek community". This has contributed to alot of very knowledgeable computer geeks going underground, thus furthering the downward spiral.

This doesn't mean you should despair, however - there are many, many people out there for you to get in touch with. Infact, I recommend it - go to local Linux/Unix Users Groups, visit campuses in your area.. many computer geeks can be found with a can of mountain dew in one hand and a keyboard in the other inside the least-used computer labs on campus. Listservs and smaller online forums are another option for meeting geeks. The fact of the matter is that unless you can make money at it, people are likely to just look at you and shake your head. We're right now in the approximate position that electronics hobbists were in about 40 years ago - it was pretty much either you go into radio, or you don't get a job. In the computer industry, unless you can dot com your way up the ladder, there isn't much in the way of opportunity. I would focus on acadamia because they are less interested in what the world thinks and alot more interested in doing interesting things, which may or may not turn into business plans.

Bottom line: The real world sucks, but it did 50 years ago, and it'll still suck 50 years from now. Don't be a part of the real world; Don't lead a dull life. Find friends. Find people who share your goals and admire you for who you are, not what you do. Then it doesn't matter whether the real world sucks or not, because you've got your own world to be a part of instead.

Society needs therapy. It's having
trouble accepting itself.

I agree, but... (4.12 / 8) (#10)
by ObeseWhale on Tue Dec 05, 2000 at 06:03:22 PM EST

Does the High School world HAVE to suck? Perhaps if we can find the social cause of technophobia among staff we can work at eliminating it?

Finding areas in which Geeks are accepted is not too tough a matter. I go to meetings at the local LUG, participate in developer mailing lists, and have posted comments more and more fequently on Kuro5hin. As I said, it's become plain and clear through articles by John Katz, etc. that high school geek life is not a walk in the park.

However, I've heard John Katz speak on the issue again and again, and there's something missing. Yes, we can keep on whining about our persecution, but I find it much more interesting to try to piece together exactly why this persecution exists. And does it have to exist?

It seems that because of the sub-social and veiled nature of geek culture in high school, very little is known about us. Everyone here knows about the latest kegger held at the Prom Queen's house, but practically no one has heard of a LAN party. When I try to explain it they usually laugh at me, "bring your WHOLE computer to someone's house!" They would be quite perplexed if I turned and said "bring a WHOLE keg!"

The somewhat mysterious nature of our culture seems to give way to a social form of FUD. Does anyone else have their own theory?


"The hunger for liberty may he suppressed for a time; yet never exterminated. Man's natural instinct is for freedom, and no power on earth can succeed in crushing it for very long."
-Alexander Berkman
[ Parent ]
Suckitude Cannon Engaged! (3.76 / 13) (#13)
by Signal 11 on Tue Dec 05, 2000 at 06:14:59 PM EST

Does the High School world HAVE to suck?

More or less, yes. There are two common adult opinions about high school which allows these atrocities to happen with regularity: First is the "I went through it, and dammit you're going to go through with it" attitude. It takes various forms, the but overall theme is the same - these people can easily be spotted by asking the question "What am I learning in HS that is useful in the real world?" If they skirt the issue or delay their answer more than two seconds (while they consult their mental dictionary of teen propaganda), you got them pegged. The fact of the matter is that high school today is effectively daycare for teenagers - it's doubtful you'll learn anything. As Plato said: Physical excercise, when compulsory, does no harm to the body; Education, when compulsory, obtains no hold on the mind. The other wide-spread problem is that adults simply don't care about high school. Alot of them move their jaw back and fourth when it comes to the topic of school reform, but not a bloody one of them raises a single finger or writes a single check to help. Adults are apathetic, and our society has built safeguards into the system to keep teens from excercising the same rights adults to. Slavery due to age, more or less - you are owned by your parents until you turn eighteen.

As far as geek-specific stuff, the fact of the matter is that for atleast 10-15 more years until the baby boomers start to die off (yes, this is rather morbid - but it's true) we aren't going to see widespread acceptance of computers and computer professionals beyond their ability to make money. Look at how people view Bill Gates - do they admire his technical skills? No. Do they admire that he's a "geek"? No. Do they admire that he's creative and/or innovative? Nope. What do they like about Bill Gates then? MONEY, Capital M Capital O Capital N Capital E Capital Y, Money. Take that away and Bill Gates (in everyone else's eyes) is nothing more than a middle aged "dweeb" who can't get a date.

Yes, we can keep on whining about our persecution, but I find it much more interesting to try to piece together exactly why this persecution exists. And does it have to exist?

No, but geeks don't want to organize a political uprising to change that. If we unionized, protested, and formed support groups to deal with these social problems, they would go away within a year. The fact of the matter is that many of us are disillusioned, socially inept, and literally incapable of widespread organization for progress. The best we can do for now is try to network our community together and bring people together and hope that things reach critical mass on their own.

Society needs therapy. It's having
trouble accepting itself.
[ Parent ]

[Semi-OT] Learning in HS (4.50 / 8) (#18)
by Ryan Koppenhaver on Tue Dec 05, 2000 at 06:46:03 PM EST

...asking the question "What am I learning in HS that is useful in the real world?" If they skirt the issue or delay their answer more than two seconds (while they consult their mental dictionary of teen propaganda), you got them pegged. The fact of the matter is that high school today is effectively daycare for teenagers - it's doubtful you'll learn anything.

Wrong! (Bad and Wrong, even, because it starts out with the assumption that the only things worth learning are those which have an immediate, practical application.)

The simple fact of the matter is that in high school, just like in life in general, you'll learn as much as you choose to learn, no more and no less.

Here's a gratuitous example: When you study Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea, (as I did in 10th grade, and my sister is right now) you have several choices.

  • You can decide that a book about fishing is worthless, and choose to learn nothing. You'll probably fail the class this way.
  • You can decide that the book is worthless, but a good grade is not, and choose to memorize the facts that are presented to you. You'll pass the class, but you still won't have gained much of anything, and you'll probably forget most of it after the test.
  • Or, you can consider that they wouldn't be teaching the book if it didn't have something worthwhile to say, and yo can choose to actually pay attention to the themes of the book. If you do this, you'll quickly understand that the book is about more than just a geriatric in a dinghy, it's about struggle, and Hemingway's vision of what it is to be a man. And then you'll have learned something!

But perhaps I haven't answered your question yet. How does this help you in the real world? The bottom line here is that this sort of knowledge will make you a more well rounded person, which will leave you better suited to deal with the inevitable things that you come across that you haven't yet prepared for.

[ Parent ]

On education... (3.85 / 7) (#31)
by Signal 11 on Tue Dec 05, 2000 at 07:35:10 PM EST

How does this help you in the real world? The bottom line here is that this sort of knowledge will make you a more well rounded person, which will leave you better suited to deal with the inevitable things that you come across that you haven't yet prepared for.

I'm sorry, but school is little more than daycare for teenagers these days, and many (most?) school districts admit this. Class sizes are increasing, budgets are shrinking, and the system is so antiquidated compared to its overseas counterparts that it is not even funny.

My high school education was only had outside of the classroom - fighting for what I believed in, and challenging an entire community to think for itself. I found myself on the wrong side of the metal bars in jail, I found myself out on the street with blood on my shirt, I found myself hiding underneath cars and in drainage ditches - I was either loved or hated where I went to school, with no middle ground.

THAT is education. Education is not in a textbook. It is not in dark, dry basements of libraries, and it is not locked behind the doors of universities. Education is something that looks you in the eye and screams at you that you have no choice but to make a choice. Education is a messy affair. You're often proven wrong, you often break things, and you may be attacked for pursuing real education.

But there's no other way to learn but to stand up and take decisive action. It will change you in a way you cannot possibly imagine unless you've been there. Standing in front of a gymnasium, filled with 830 students and about 40 teachers and 2 administrators, I stood up and told the assistant principal he was full of shit for saying that students had rights. It was at that moment that everything clicked into place. A few minutes later, literally so.

High school is not about education. It's about control - it's about making sure the school isn't blamed for you trying to get out into the world and get a real education. It's about having a place to store your body until you get old enough to earn somebody else money out in the real world.

Fight for your education. It will empower you to change yourself, and change the world.

Society needs therapy. It's having
trouble accepting itself.
[ Parent ]

Re: On Education (3.60 / 5) (#37)
by Ryan Koppenhaver on Tue Dec 05, 2000 at 08:47:53 PM EST

I'm certainly not going to dispute the value of life experience gained in challenging situations, but to claim that you can replace the whole classical education with a momentary epiphany[*] is absurd.

High school is not about education. It's about control - it's about making sure the school isn't blamed for you trying to get out into the world and get a real education. It's about having a place to store your body until you get old enough to earn somebody else money out in the real world.
Pick a dozen teachers at random. Ask them what the goal of their job is. I doubt you'll get many who reply that they're in the business of housing students and preventing them from really learning. On the contrary, they'll tell you that they're in the business of teaching, of helping students to learn. Some of the more honest ones will probably admit that their job also entails preventing disruption to the learning environment, but this is a secondary goal, and it goes back to choice. Failure to learn in school is the result of deciding that there's nothing in school worth learning, not of any lack of intent on the part of the faculty and administration.

[*] Side Note: I remember the day I learned that word. It was in 11th grade English class with Mr. Trenney[**]. We were studying Waiting for Godot.

[**] On the first day of class, Mr. Trenney introduced himself, saying: "I'm not going to be your friend. I'm not going to be your mother. I am going to be the best damn English teacher you've ever had." And he was. How's that for day care?

[ Parent ]
replacing classical education (2.57 / 7) (#38)
by Signal 11 on Tue Dec 05, 2000 at 08:58:54 PM EST

I never said all teachers were bad, or all schools were bad.. I'm just saying many (most?) of them are. As a result, my education didn't come from inside a classroom. Don't read into it anymore than necessary.

Society needs therapy. It's having
trouble accepting itself.
[ Parent ]
Reading into it more than necessary? (none / 0) (#178)
by Potsy on Mon Dec 11, 2000 at 03:08:15 AM EST

Here is the part the previous poster quoted:

High school is not about education. It's about control...

I don't see a "many" or "most" in that sentence. Far from "read[ing] into it anymore than necessary", I'd say he was reading exactly what you wrote.

Granted, you did say this:

I'm sorry, but school is little more than daycare for teenagers these days, and many (most?) school districts admit this.

Here you include a qualifier about "many" or "most" schools, but then again, it was only in reference to which schools admit their faults. When it came to actually describing the faults themselves, you left off the "many (most?)" stuff and just made a blanket statement.

[ Parent ]

Ignore this! (none / 0) (#180)
by evro on Wed Dec 13, 2000 at 11:08:47 AM EST

Version: PGPfreeware 6.5.8 for non-commercial use <http://www.pgp.com>


"Asking me who to follow -- don't ask me, I don't know!"
[ Parent ]
Holy crap! (none / 0) (#181)
by Khedak on Wed Dec 13, 2000 at 06:08:08 PM EST

Version: PGPfreeware 6.5.8 for non-commercial use <http://www.pgp.com>

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[ Parent ]
Do you expect them to? (3.00 / 3) (#79)
by ZanThrax on Wed Dec 06, 2000 at 02:23:41 AM EST

Just because they think they are good teachers teaching worthwhile material in an effective way, it doesn't mean they are. The one's who admit that their job also entails preventing disruption and discuss (at least with other educators) the glaring problems with both the methodology and content of the education system are the one's who are most likely at least halfway decent. Most of the rest don't realise how ineffective and unimportant they are.

Before flying off the handle over the suggestion that your a cocksucker, be sure that you do not, in fact, have a cock in your mouth.
[ Parent ]

sounds like a waste (4.25 / 4) (#87)
by SEAL on Wed Dec 06, 2000 at 05:40:23 AM EST

That's not education, that's just conflict. Conflict can teach us things, but it certainly isn't going to provide a complete education.

Think back to your Plato quote for a moment. When it comes to education, the more interested you are in it, the more you're going to get out of it. Then this statement:

I found myself out on the street with blood on my shirt, I found myself hiding underneath cars and in drainage ditches - I was either loved or hated where I went to school, with no middle ground.

Gee I wonder why? You seem to take a stand on issues very quickly. This quality would tend to piss off the people who disagree with you and have the reverse effect on others. But in high school, focusing on the educational content, rather than the environmental conflict, requires focus. You need to learn when to keep your mouth shut and ignore people's stupid shit, and when to take a stand. Taking a stand ALL the time can actually slow you down from achieving your goals.

I freely admit, I wasn't too good at dealing with things back then - 10 years ago for me. I had days when I'd get home seriously depressed. I got in a few fights. I got physically harassed by certain people. And there was a lot of gang activity in the area where I grew up. But for the most part, I was interested in my classes and got good grades. I usually liked what I was studying. I didn't participate in the traditional favored-by-the-administration sports but I was, and am athletic.

Now you might say that I bowed down to the Man and bit my tongue so that I could get to my military career. But the thing is - that was MY goal, and no one else's - not my parents', not my teachers', not my school counselor's. In fact, I surprised most of them. I see so many of these threads about repressed geeks and I notice most of the time someone is complaining about "I did/said this, and the adminstration reacted unfairly". The problem is that these students aren't looking ahead at what the reaction will be. Schools are very predictable entities. I made a point of knowing how the system works, so that I could make it work for me.

And no, I wasn't part of the jock crowd, a class officer, or a model of "school spirit". I just didn't flaunt that fact.

Best regards,


It's only after we've lost everything that we're free to do anything.
[ Parent ]

Wrong (4.00 / 6) (#34)
by Scrag on Tue Dec 05, 2000 at 08:20:52 PM EST

Trust me, you are dead wrong.
I love to learn, I love good literature. Science and math constantly interest me.

I am in high school, and it is definitely not a place where I can learn. I constantly find myself trying to learn about the things that I feel are interesting, while the teacher is talking about another subject. Why should I learn what they are trying to teach me instead of what I want to? Most of it is the same stuff I learned in elementary school - with more tedious homework.

Not only do I learn useless stuff instead of learning things that I want to know, the schools have an incredible gift for destroying what was once fun. I enjoy computers, so I signed up for a networking class. They managed to turn networking into boring fact memorization instead of what it could have been. Have we done anything in there other than read a 4-year old networking text book? No.
The part that really bothers me is that I could have had the entire book read, and passed the final tests in about 2 weeks if I had been allowed to go at my own pace. It has taken 3 months, and we are just finishing.

I find that more of the problems with school lies in the administration than with the students. I consider myself a geek, but I do not see the discrimination that most people do. Except from teachers. I was not allowed in the computer lab for two weeks once because I knew more than the teacher and made her look bad. I have MANY more problems with teachers than I do with students.

I'm looking for a way to get out of the system next year. Maybe drop out+GED, maybe A college course program they have set up. I don't know, I just want out. I barely have time to do anything *after* school because of the stupid homework.

So, in conclusion, school sucks and it doesn't help you learn. It is daycare for teens.

"I'm... responsible for... many atrocities" - rusty
[ Parent ]
Not exactly. (3.33 / 3) (#78)
by ZanThrax on Wed Dec 06, 2000 at 02:19:36 AM EST

It is effectively daycare for the <em>intelligent</em> teens. Schools are geared to make sure that none are left behind, even though that means that the ones who could benefit most from an education are wandering aimlessly, waiting for the others to grasp simple mathematical concepts and the difference between nouns and verbs.

Before flying off the handle over the suggestion that your a cocksucker, be sure that you do not, in fact, have a cock in your mouth.
[ Parent ]

Last option is not complete (3.66 / 3) (#77)
by ZanThrax on Wed Dec 06, 2000 at 02:16:56 AM EST

Actually reading and understanding the book is only the first half of two different options:
  • Thhink and learn, as mentioned, then use only what is presented in class and suplemental materials to do the related work. Pass with a good mark.
  • Think and learn, as mentioned, then do the related work based upon what you have drawn from the literature. Depending on how close your opinion is to the "right" answer, fail, or come close.
Of all the english / literature teachers I've ever had, I've only ever had one that broke this pattern. Not surprisingly, this is the only one who got any real effort out of me.

Before flying off the handle over the suggestion that your a cocksucker, be sure that you do not, in fact, have a cock in your mouth.
[ Parent ]

It's not universal. (3.40 / 5) (#14)
by Ryan Koppenhaver on Tue Dec 05, 2000 at 06:23:10 PM EST

Does the High School world HAVE to suck?

In a word, no. I was a technophile in high school (though not to the degree I am today), and 10th-12th grades were some of the best years of my life. I had lots of good friends, I was on friendly terms with the majority of the people in my class and most of the faculty. I was in Band, Drama, and Academic Decathlon, among other activities-- not the most glamorous of activities, and not as well funded as something like the football team, but fun things nonetheless.

I think the chief cause of technophobia (both in society in general, and specifically in high school) is the fact that there's a high correlation between people who are knowledgeable about computers, and people who tend to be introverted, and hang out only with other geeky people. This leads to the popular perception of the quiet, antisocial geek, who spends all of his time with his computer. This tends to be a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy, and it in turn leads to the perception that geeks are different or even a little weird, which in turn leads to the technophobia you describe.

[ Parent ]

sub-niggle (3.60 / 5) (#19)
by Smiling Dragon on Tue Dec 05, 2000 at 06:59:00 PM EST

You've got the right idea there I'd say :)

Only one argument, I found College (that's NZ talk for High School I think? 13-17 year olds right?) to be just like the rest of the world. I got thumped when I showed too much interest, a good friend of mine nearly got suspended for 'showing an unhealthy interest in system security'.

But it's not much different here in 'real life', we just don't have to bow down to as many people these days. I know a bunch of people that would like to just see all us evil hackers locked up. Look at how the governments treat us when they think there might be some 'evil hacking' going on.

College was just doing the general anti-geek thing to the same extreme as the other injustices you see there. Recall how bad it used to be for those from different religions? Zero understanding (not speaking from experiance here :). Another friend of mine once got suspended for 'threatening to sabatage the drama class play' because he was overheard being negative and saying that he didn't think it would succeed.

Take your college experiances of geek-dom and attentuate a fair bit and that's what you'll get in real life.

Next task is to deal with it, and as you say, find friends that think the same way, kick back with a beer and rant about how crap the world is.

-- Sometimes understanding is the booby prize - Neal Stephenson
[ Parent ]
2 Points (3.82 / 17) (#9)
by Ryan Koppenhaver on Tue Dec 05, 2000 at 06:01:49 PM EST

First of all, you are correct. Being a geek in high school is not terribly rewarding. There are a lot of students who think they're better than you because their accomplisments are financial, social, or athletic. And, sadly, there are going to be school policies that tend to support that belief, such as putting up posters of people whose accomplishments fall into the aforementioned categories.

But, amazingly enough, this is a Good Thing. If the only thing you learn about life in your high school years is that you can't rely on anyone else for your perception of yourself, you'll be light years ahead of everyone else.

Second, regarding your examples of computer rules: Remember that your use of school computing facilities is a privilige, not a right. It's your responsibility to find out and understand the usage policies before you make use of the equipment. If the policy is vague or unwritten, you have a cause for complaint... but only before you break the rules. You can't expect arguments about poor policies to fly if you stand to get in trouble under the existing policies. And if you can't get satisfaction, don't use the schools computing facilities.

Societal celebration isn't the issue... (3.84 / 19) (#11)
by Miniluv on Tue Dec 05, 2000 at 06:04:52 PM EST

First of all, despite the banners on the walls, high school is not there to celebrate anybody. High school is an instution intended to be devoted to education, and while it doesn't always achieve that, it should be focused on it. Your quip about joining the military speaks volumes about the misunderstanding you hold the remainder of society in, a mirror image of the complaint you have.

As far as your examples go, the administration is not as computer literate as you. School computers are not provided to be toys, they're there to enhance the education experience in direct relation to your classes. If your friend hasn't read the use policy and violated it, whose problem is that? Did he have to sign it to gain access to the computers as is the norm in most schools?

Basically, I understand your complaints, and I even sympathize to an extent, but I just can't see the full-scale society bashing editorial that this is. I can see that there's a lot to discuss centering around this issue and it could be done in so much more interesting ways for those of us who are out of high school and may not care to relive it.

"Its like someone opened my mouth and stuck a fistful of herbs in it." - Tamio Kageyama, Iron Chef 'Battle Eggplant'

Disagree (4.50 / 6) (#23)
by Smiling Dragon on Tue Dec 05, 2000 at 07:12:13 PM EST

But high schools _do_ celebrate the individual, they hold up one person and say to the others 'look at this student, I want you to all try and be like them'.

Also, if I read the story correctly, the friend that got nailed was _not_ violating policy, it was just that they had not read it and so didn't know to argue.

And school computers are _not_ just there to enhance the experiance related to classes. In most schools, they are there to also teach kids about the computers and how to get along in a world full of them (computers that is :).

-- Sometimes understanding is the booby prize - Neal Stephenson
[ Parent ]
We live in an imperfect world (3.75 / 4) (#36)
by Miniluv on Tue Dec 05, 2000 at 08:44:53 PM EST

My post wasn't entirely reflective of reality, I understand this. However, I was trying to make the point that school is not there to idolize and emulate individuals, and that's certainly not all it offers to it's attendees.
Also, if I read the story correctly, the friend that got nailed was _not_ violating policy, it was just that they had not read it and so didn't know to argue.
See, I got that he did violate it, but didn't know he was breaking the rules because he hadn't read it. Either way the student was ignorant of the rules and suffered for his ignorance. I can't exactly brim with sympathy for someone who didn't know they were wrong OR right because of ignorance.
And school computers are _not_ just there to enhance the experiance related to classes. In most schools, they are there to also teach kids about the computers and how to get along in a world full of them (computers that is :).
School computers are there for a varietyy of purposes. Exploring them in an unstructured way is not usually one of them. People fail to realize that in most cases the schools can barely afford to put those computers in the classroom, let alone maintain them. The administrators are strapped for time, resources, etc and thus must put in place a policy that maximizes availability and useability for the students. A policy like this CANNOT take into account people who have higher skill levels without adding resource requirements into the mix.

My mother is a school librarian, upon whom the task of maintaining the schools computers has been dumped. Since at the time they were setting up I was learning NT4 I offered my assistance in setting the computers up, installing the OS, configuring, etc.
We decided to set things up such that we just removed the bulk of the opportunities for the students to mess with the computers in unintended ways. We changed the desktop from explorer to iexplore and wrote a web-based navigation setup that allowed them to launch all the "approved" applications quickly and easily.
There's no really easy answer to this question, but I think I'm going to side with the school system in the general sense, and say that it's really rather silly for any of us to try and leap to conclusions with not all the facts.

"Its like someone opened my mouth and stuck a fistful of herbs in it." - Tamio Kageyama, Iron Chef 'Battle Eggplant'
[ Parent ]

re: Living in an imperfect world (4.00 / 3) (#57)
by Smiling Dragon on Tue Dec 05, 2000 at 10:51:22 PM EST

School computers are there for a varietyy of purposes. Exploring them in an unstructured way is not usually one of them.
Aye, a very important point. It's not hard to sound out the teacher / admin ahead of time before you try and do something different (now that's an easy one to define, unlike 'dangerous') so as not to step on toes or alarm people. I guess I was lucky coming through before the computers were so popular, our school had them but the script-kiddy was non-existant and 'hacking' wasn't an evil word floating round the staff-room at lunchtime :).
There's no really easy answer to this question, but I think I'm going to side with the school system in the general sense, and say that it's really rather silly for any of us to try and leap to conclusions with not all the facts.
Well said <grin>. I still don't think I can approve of the school's actions if the story is 100% true and complete, but I can certainly see where you are coming from. I do not envy your mother, it always seems to fall on the maths teachers or librarians to do all that 'technical stuff' when schools are trying to save cash (been there, done that :)

-- Sometimes understanding is the booby prize - Neal Stephenson
[ Parent ]

BFD (2.83 / 18) (#12)
by sugarman on Tue Dec 05, 2000 at 06:08:30 PM EST

I'm sorry, but I have a real hard time relating to how you're being repressed by "the man".

Taken from a different perspective, I can see why a sysadmin would shut or your friends down. You've admitted that you've hacked the network, and to preserve that network stability, your access is going to be restricted. The next time you try and run something else, they're going to watch you closely, and keep you from doing that again. It doesn't matter what your intentions are.

So I'm not entirely sympathetic. Sure the sysadmin's might be pissed at having to ride shotgun at a school, instead of doing what they want to. (Hell, are they even full-time sysadmin's, or just math teachers who had another pile dumped on their desk? If so, I sympathize with their plight).

Hell, you might even know more than them. Not unheard of. But don't assume that they are persecuting you because you're a geek. Maybe you're just a punk who's causing problems.

What? (3.75 / 4) (#15)
by Ryan Koppenhaver on Tue Dec 05, 2000 at 06:29:19 PM EST

Look, I agree that if he's violated the usage policy, the school has every right to punish him, but how in the Sam Hill is running a publicly accessible communication program, or opening up (gasp!) a DOS prompt going to endanger the stability of the network!?

[ Parent ]
Incomplete thought (2.50 / 4) (#35)
by sugarman on Tue Dec 05, 2000 at 08:37:08 PM EST

(mine, not yours)

What I was getting at (poorly) was that there was likely a reason for them getting shot down for firing up Dos. I'm assuming they were using DOS to run whatever script / hack / etc they were doing, (or, more than likely, the administrator had been burned by it before), and the admin was trying to nip things in the bud.

Seeing as the punishment was after the fact, the evidence most likely came from logs. I'm figuring either a) they caused a problem, and the admin had to go back and check, or b) they were parsing the logs for something they'd been burned by in the past.

In any event, the story doesn't sound entirely kosher. I was a teen, you were (are?) a teen, pretty much everybody on this site was a teen, and we all know how much bullshit gets thrown about.

"But I was only driving 35!"
"No, we weren't in the liquor cabinet!"
"I was only opening a DOS prompt!"

[ Parent ]

You are missing something here (3.75 / 4) (#21)
by ObeseWhale on Tue Dec 05, 2000 at 07:06:23 PM EST

I made it very clear in the article that I absolutely did not "hack" anything. Indeed, I wrote a communications program, a sort of instant messenger for students at our school (very similar to Win PopUp actually). There was NOTHING at all written about this in the school's fair use policy, and because I pointed that out early on, I was let off the hook with my account restored. Other students, however, often are afraid of the power of the school's administration, afraid that challenging unfair decisions will only get them into more trouble. What I did in no way compromised network security, indeed, I got full approval from my teacher to do it, and only later did the administrators start harassing me.

Perhaps, in the administrations' views, I was causing problems, but if I was the least they could do is write something about it in the use policy and quit trying to persecute others.


"The hunger for liberty may he suppressed for a time; yet never exterminated. Man's natural instinct is for freedom, and no power on earth can succeed in crushing it for very long."
-Alexander Berkman
[ Parent ]
A point... (none / 0) (#167)
by spaceghoti on Thu Dec 07, 2000 at 05:13:06 PM EST

Bear in mind, I have little sympathy for an overzealous admin. Cutting access to potential troublemakers without bothering to investigate the issue is the mark of a small mind.

Without bothering to rehash statements made in previous posts, I will point out that finding new ways to exploit a system that aren't currently covered under policy is tantamount to abuse. In other words, those powers not expressly granted to you are expressly forbidden. It's a tyrannical, hard-nosed way of doing things and frankly creates more work than not, but some people feel better thinking they're doing their jobs that way. In the business market, it can also be called "micro-managing."

About the only thing I can point out here is that whether you were right or wrong, you deliberately went out and drew attention to yourself by net sending the sysadmin. You were trying to be cute, and got burned. I know far too many teachers (and sysadmins, come to think of it) with no sense of humor that anybody is aware of. These people are usually big fish in a little pond, and any perceived threat to their authority is usually met with swift and crushing punishment.

My best suggestion at this point is to keep away from attracting attention from the sysadmin as much as possible and clear everything through your teacher before you attempt it. That way even if you invoke The Great and Mighty Sysadmin again, you can point to your teacher and say, "take it up with him[her]." It isn't fair, but high school is hardly fair. I watched my vice principal punch a student in the chest for little more than mouthing off. I had mixed emotions over this due to the fellow being punched, but overall that's the environment you live in: daycare and minimum security prison (with increasing levels of security these days) that attempts to teach you something in the process. If all they teach you is not to mouth off at authority, then some staff members consider themselves lucky.

"Humor. It is a difficult concept. It is not logical." -Saavik, ST: Wrath of Khan

[ Parent ]
I Had a Very Different Experience (4.68 / 19) (#17)
by LaNMaN2000 on Tue Dec 05, 2000 at 06:31:59 PM EST

I had a very different experience in high school as a consequency of my computer knowledge. While, admittedly, I attended a small parochial school that was reasonably accomodating even though I was a vocal atheist and is not representative of the schools most people attend, I think that I earned people's respect because of my affinity for computers.

Whenever one of my peers had difficulty with a computer they were using, I helped them resolve their problems to the best of my ability. Whether this meant registry editing or using a DOS prompt. the IT people and my teachers appreciated my assistance and did not mind that I was using the computer in that way. When somebody changed the IE home page to sex.com and changed the registry to prevent the default home page from being changed by editing the registry, I restored the original settings and explained what had happened to the computer lab instructor. They appreciated my help and at no time did they accuse me of setting the porn page to load.

When I brought the PWL file security hole to their attention (they were using Win95 machines to connect to a Netware server) and explained how easy it would be for me to obtain the admin password or those of my classmates, they asked me to evaluate a new security program that they intended to install. I was not too upset when they decided to install the shareware piece of **** even though I figured out how to crack it in 15 seconds with the computer lab instructor present and I strongly opposed the draconian interface that the program allowed the average user. I had hoped that they would take my opinion seriously but, considering that I was the only person they asked to test the system, I was content to merely have my opinion considered. BTW, the next year they upgraded all systems to NT so the PWL files were no longer an issue and the "security program" was uninstalled.

The way you will be perceived by the administration is a function of how you interact with them. If you are reasonably diplomatic and helpful, they will have no reason to harass you. However, if you are always antagonistic towards them then it understandable that they will be antagonistic when dealing with you.

BTW, your statement about not publicizing the accomplishments of scientists or businesspeople is dead on. In high school and many Universities, academics takes a back seat to athletics and mindless social gatherings. I was very surprised to arrive at college and have a professor, who conforms almost perfectly to the stereotype of a mathematics phD, preface each Calculus lecture with a discussion about the athletic teams.

Lenny Grover -- link-spamming to make Google give me my name back!
No opportunities (3.87 / 8) (#26)
by ObeseWhale on Tue Dec 05, 2000 at 07:17:05 PM EST

My high school is relatively large, and we have staff and administration boards with most of our networking/computing issues. Furthermore, I have actually made several positive contributions to the high school, including writing their first web page and helping struggling students in programming classes.

You may think my case is an exception to the rule, but most persecuted geeks I've talked to have made similar contributions.


"The hunger for liberty may he suppressed for a time; yet never exterminated. Man's natural instinct is for freedom, and no power on earth can succeed in crushing it for very long."
-Alexander Berkman
[ Parent ]
I had a similar situation (3.20 / 5) (#89)
by Tisniq on Wed Dec 06, 2000 at 08:32:17 AM EST

I was a good student, although I goofed off a bit.
From the first years of high school (90) I was in the computer club, and competed in math contests.

By the time I had left, I could do pretty much whatever I wanted, I was given full access to the Novell server, I could walk in and out of almost any class in the school, since the teachers knew I was a good tutor, and would help other students.
I guess I just worked it the right way, finish my work quick, don't cause much trouble, and help others.

Yes when I was younger and a bit in the earlier grades some of my classmates were abusive and it sucked. But by the time I left I had changed a lot, people stopped laughing when they realized I could help them (didn't help the assholes though).

Of course my schoool also had a huge athletics push, if you were on a team, you would not fail any course, and you didn't have to do homework.

You really have to target the teachers, the teacher that runs the computer club is probaly more accepting that you prefer C to VB.

[ Parent ]
I had a similar experience (3.16 / 6) (#115)
by RedHatdude on Wed Dec 06, 2000 at 12:56:44 PM EST

I was an open agnostic in a Jesuit HS, and got along with the network administrator. We were running an NT based network with 95 clients. We didn't have ANY user rights though. We didn't have desktop icons, etc.

So, I made it my quest to get desktop icons and bypass the server's registry settings. Since we couldn't run regedit, I dropped to dos mode, ran regedit in CLI mode, and exported the registry to an ASCII file. Through some random editing, I did indeed get desktop icons for one session, but the computer promptly crashed, and refused to work :-\ He didn't care, and let me reinstall windows. I even installed linux on several of the machines so we could play hunt during his C++ class (in which I taught HIM C++ instead of the other way around a lot of the time). I would have worked from linux, but I couldn't get the printer working from linux (hell, we couldn't get it working from windows half of the time :))

All in all, it depends on who you are dealing with. There were some "31337 hacker d00ds" too, but they were not tolerated. I know, though, that if some of the other teachers in the school were the net admin instead of him, it would have been a crappy year of compsci.

[ Parent ]
Not just geeks. (3.83 / 12) (#20)
by Khedak on Tue Dec 05, 2000 at 07:00:38 PM EST

It's interesting to see geekdom as a human endeavour as noble as athletics, music, and scholarship. Actually you said "straight-A scholarship" as seperated from geek scholarship. With that in mind, don't you think that it's not the fact that geeks aren't recognized, it's the fact that they would be recognized if the education system's value system were more sensible? Do you really think that all true athletic talent is supported in school, or all true musical talent, or all true scholarly ability? The problem doesn't just affect geeks. Trying to define yourself as part of a group and then address your interests ignores the overall problem: the state public education. What that means to you will vary with your viewpoint, but I think most of us can agree that the problem isn't that there's a conspiracy against geeks, it's that education (at least in the united states) is carried out in a fashion that stifles creative thought, ostracizes the different, and promotes questionable ethics.

Geekdom is a form of creative, constructive thought, and that alone should warrant its promotion in our public education system. This is the part where I say I wish I knew how to fix it, though. Any education activists out there care to share?

Right on the mark (3.85 / 7) (#22)
by ObeseWhale on Tue Dec 05, 2000 at 07:11:59 PM EST

Your comment is right on the mark, and definately the best I have read thus far. I want to know what YOU think is the reason for schools' persecution of geeks (and others).

On your first point, I do think that schools fully encourage and promote athletic, musical, and often traditional artistic talent. All of these are interpreted as falling under the broad umbrella of "creativity".

However, there is a difference between these forms of creativity and geek creativity. The difference is that artistry and music are "traditional" forms of creativity, while code poetics are relatively new.

Perhaps there is a bit of neophilia that leads to the shunning of geeks?


"The hunger for liberty may he suppressed for a time; yet never exterminated. Man's natural instinct is for freedom, and no power on earth can succeed in crushing it for very long."
-Alexander Berkman
[ Parent ]
Thanks :) (4.16 / 6) (#30)
by Khedak on Tue Dec 05, 2000 at 07:28:21 PM EST

Well, I think it's not it's newness that causes geeks to be shunned, I'd rather say that our schools are designed to teach children to fill a role rather than to learn to think. If you happen to be talented in music or athletics, then you're trained to fill what the schools promote as an athletic or musical role, regardless of whether that role allows you to be creative and constructive or not. Which is why geeks aren't permitted: their creativity does not match the role of the student nor any role they are attempting to train us for. The only reason "traditional" forms are favored is because they are more easily trained into acceptable roles.

The original purpose of public education was not to help people reach their own self-determined potential, but to train them into roles. This is why those with status or wealth most often employ private schools, where the roles for which they are trained are different. Some cases are better or worse than others, but I think that education needs to shift from such rigid role-training to allow students to exercise more personal freedoms. How to go about this, of course, isn't something I've considered in great detail. :)

[ Parent ]
Lots to be said American educational systems (4.40 / 5) (#55)
by bgalehouse on Tue Dec 05, 2000 at 10:43:12 PM EST

There are many standard arguments about this. One is that the public education system is meant to create factory workers, not scientists and engineers. Another is that the lecture hall is the factory line of education techniques - and that even when class sizes shrink, this is all that many teachers feel comfortable with. Maybe Montissori schools will become more popular in the future.

There are other standard statements which try to explain what is wrong with the education system. Personaly, I think it is about shifting attitudes. I remember a High School math teacher who didn't know what a derivative was. I remember a high school history teacher who thought education was about memorizing notes. There was no motivation for these people to change.

And teachers complain that they don't get enough respect. Asking for respect is allways a bad sign.

To be sure, there were some teachers who earned my respect in high school. There was a physics teacher who actually generally knew the material. An english teacher who actually enjoyed reading. They did not amaze me, but they seemed generally competent and happy teaching.

But overall, the teachers who actually struck me as good educators did not have a strong majority. My point isn't that unqualified teachers exist. The point is that they are accepted. Socially, if a teacher is following a lesson plan, and grading by any rational set of rules, their peers assume that all is well. Their students are told that all as well. (take your ridalin!) Their parents are told that all is well (have them checked for ADD!).

But I guess that somebody would speak up and complain if there were a real problem. Literacy would be dropping if there were a problem. Recent immigrants and foreign exchange student would embarrase us - if there were a problem. Standardized test scores would be decreasing - if there were a problem.

[ Parent ]

Help! Help! I'm being repressed! (4.07 / 14) (#28)
by jabber on Tue Dec 05, 2000 at 07:22:00 PM EST

I voted this down. Not because I don't care, but because it adds nothing to what I've already seen ad nauseum - on various sites (including K5 and CNN). In fact, it can be summed up in a simple statement: Those in authority fear that which they do not understand, especially when it is in the hands of those over whom they are supposed to have authority.

I was a 'geek' in grade school - and I distinctly remember getting yelled at for writing a BASIC (TRS-80) program that did exactly what I was supposed to make it do - and then some. It was this 'and than some' that I got into trouble for - it was not copied directly from the book, and therefore beyond the scope of the teacher's understanding. I was an instant discipline problem for the next three years.

By the time I was in HS, I had figured things out, and I was for the most part invisible. I still got picked on by jocks, but I didn't do anything to upset the teacher's or administrator's comfortable little worlds.

I won/earned peer/teacher/administrator respect in College, where I got to know many others like myself.

Now I've got a decent job, with decent pay, an attractive and intelligent girlfriend, a fancy car - and the jocks who kicked sand in my face now bag my groceries and handle my banking transactions.

What does all that mean? That it's a common experience. I am far from unique, and you are just as special as everyone else. Let's all quit wearing our 'geekhood' on our sleeve, let's stop whinning about how repressed and persecuted we are. Let's all just get a life.

Why are you getting in trouble at school? You should know better after the first incident. If you butt heads with administration, you will not win. Curiosity is not a valid excuse for antagonizing people who, above all else, must appear to be competent and in control. You do make one excellent point though: It is crucial to know the rules, so that you can defend yourself in not having broken them.

[TINK5C] |"Is K5 my kapusta intellectual teddy bear?"| "Yes"

In school? (4.33 / 6) (#40)
by bgalehouse on Tue Dec 05, 2000 at 09:10:30 PM EST

I agree that this has been said before. I agree that this is a common problem. But there are more positive critisisms to make.

Here is somebody being told not to experiment at school. The administrators are totally missing a point. And your suggestion that the student accept this at the first sign of administrative cluelessness is missing the same point.

If anything, I would say to not get caught, and to try to be polite about it. Sending a message to an administrator with a bad sense of humor was just a good way to make them feel insecure. This is generally a bad idea, but learning to remember this can take a bit of experience.

But people being disciplined for opening a command line - I'd be looking for ways to raise a rucus for a long time after that. I'd be trying to clue in my parents about the problem, I'd be writing letters to the schoolboard - on the computer in question, I might add :-). You can't allways change beurocracy, but as long as you seem vaguly polite it generally doesn't hurt to try.

It sounds like the school expects you to learn computers the way a secretary needs to learn computers. You might suggest that room should be added to the administrative policies for the students to learn computers the way network admins need to learn computers. Or the way programmers need to learn computers.

One suggestion would be to form a computer club which assists in admining the network. Keeping a bunch of machines stable and more or less uniform with lots of users comming and going is not trivial. It sounds like you school is way over it's head. If you make this point gently, without being to harsh about it, they might, _might_ let you help out.

[ Parent ]

Let me clarify then (4.80 / 5) (#95)
by jabber on Wed Dec 06, 2000 at 10:37:18 AM EST

I know this issue from both sides, and I've addressed it in all sorts of ways.

In principle, I completely agree with you, and with the 'wronged' and with everyone. Yes, school - in theory - is about learning, about broadenning the mind, about catering to individual curiosity and fostering and encouraging it. In practice, school is a business, it's an employer, babysitter and an academic "institution". "Institutions" are places where society puts it's non-productive members by the way - whether mentally disabled, criminal, or juvenile - just an observation.

I've worked as an IT Administrator (glorified Board of Ed term for sysadmin) in a pretty affluent school. I learned first hand of the cost of 'innocent exploration' after the first time I had to rebuild the software on one of the workstations. Things got pretty draconian after that - and not by my hand. A student was suspended as an example - again, against my advice, but still.

What I did was the following: I wrote down, in painfull detail, what the PC lab procedures were. What students were and were not permitted to do during the course of the school day. It was painful, brutal and rendered the students virtually paralysed. This multipage policy was sent home with the students, to get a parental signature; with the stipulation that if a student was found to violate the policy, they would be punished with anything ranging from detention or loss of computer access, to expulsion. The severity of the penalty would be decided by the administration - given my determination of how 'deliberate' the student was in violating the policy. I put in failsafes to make it difficult to 'accidentally' format the drives and do other offensive things.

I did this to keep the administration happy, since they signed my paychecks. This also intimidated the parents of most 'problem' kids. Genuinely curious students had little issue with this, and their parents were invited to call me for any clarification and discussion.

There is something else I did. Along with the restrictive policy, I sent home an invitation. I instituted an after school 'club', for which students had to sign-up with parental consent (like a sport, Amnesty International, SADD, and any other extracurricular activity). The rules here were different - the shields came down. Students willingly accepted responsibility for the computers. They were free to play networked games (My strict school-time policy convinced the administration to let me install Quake for the benefit of the after-school students), they were encouraged to surf the web, they were free to explore the computers. If they broke something, they were expected to either fix it, or at least document it - in any case, understand it to the point of being able to explain it. There were very few restrictions (Sorry, no admin access to the server)

The purpose of this club was manifold. It further separated the 'problem' students from the curious ones - troublemakers were not very willing to stay after school, the curious flocked there. It built trust and respect between the students and the administration. It gave the computer oriented students someplace to go and a peer group to hang out with. It let them learn from eachother and from me - and several learned like sponges. We bought VB and FrontPage (I know, I know, but it did more good than harm) and engaged students intellectually. We had online scavenger hunts and Quake tournaments (complete with awards). We got to a point where we had a bi-weekly column in the school paper about the goings-on. I ran the thing very much as Rusty runs K5.. I provided resources which were managed democratically by the group - but I retained veto power, the administration required this.

There were a couple of problems, but they were either innocent pranks or true accidents. Students enjoyed the PC Club, and the prospect of losing it (as an extreme form of punishment for abuse of the system) kept everyone playing fair. I had very few restrictions, and a few very conscientious students who were willing to stay late and clean up both the systems and the room.

The thinking behind my post took all this into account. Yes, it is not fair or right to be denied exploration - but butting heads with the people 'in charge' isn't going to accomplish anything. Some of them are terminally ignorant, and they will not be swayed - because to these people, changing their mind is a sign of weakness (if it was good enough for the Puritans, then by God, it's good enough for you!). What I accomplished was a good and worthwhile thing - and it was done within the rules, and took a lot of convincing of the powers that be.

The best thing that a repressed student can do is to find an ally. Writing letters, as you say, is also a good thing. A parental pettition is a great idea. How do you get parents to sign? Explain to them that computer literacy is as important (if not more so) as Algebra - and that learning to type in Word is not enough. Tell them what you are curious about, and what goal that curiosity seeks - tell them that computer literate people can get better jobs sooner. They will sign more often than not. And with enough parental signatures (especially of those who are known to take an active part in town meetings, BoE elections, the PTA..) the administration will have to take a pragmatic look at the situation.

But an individual bucking the system has no chance. It may feel like martyrdom, but it's futility in the least and vandalism in the worst. This is not a matter of morality or ethics - a school's job before all others (in reality, not theory) is to teach obedience to the larger system. Questioning the school in that will only hurt.

If there is a teacher willing to listen, start there. If there are respected students (NHS, a smart jock, the occasional 'cool' valedictorian), try that route. Kids of teachers and administrators might be inclined to think about it. (Another lesson school teaches - play the politics) Otherwise, look at what community colleges might offer. Talk to a local University.. Maybe they have a CS student willing to make a few extra bucks by taking on the challenge of running a PC Club... Extracurricular stuff comes out of a different pocket than the daily grind - usually - and so there are different people behind the decisions.

[TINK5C] |"Is K5 my kapusta intellectual teddy bear?"| "Yes"
[ Parent ]

Here's repression for You (4.00 / 6) (#60)
by Tr3534 on Tue Dec 05, 2000 at 11:01:47 PM EST

>Why are you getting in trouble at school? You should
>know better the second time around.

This September i was waved (our term for 'accused of plotting school violence') for...

Wearing black.

I Will know better the second time around: accuse them of libel.

Sigmentation Fault: Post Dumped.
[ Parent ]
oh please... (3.14 / 7) (#71)
by ChannelX on Tue Dec 05, 2000 at 11:55:37 PM EST

..I'm just as tired of hearing stuff like this:

Now I've got a decent job, with decent pay, an attractive and intelligent girlfriend, a fancy car - and the jocks who kicked sand in my face now bag my groceries and handle my banking transactions.

Not sure what size town you're from but in my experience the majority of the jocks have jobs just as good as what I have and they aren't assholes anymore like they were in HS. They arent bagging groceries nor are they handling my bank transactions. HS kids are bagging my groceries and the jocks arent working the teller windows at the bank.

[ Parent ]

More than one type of Geek (3.33 / 12) (#29)
by GandalfGreyhame on Tue Dec 05, 2000 at 07:22:02 PM EST

Something which kinda bothers me about what you wrote is that you assume there's only one type of geek, that being the computer kind. There are many, many different type of geeks. For example, look at this section of The Code of the Geeks v3.12, which illustrates my point perfectly. For those of you who don't feel like looking, here's a few of the different type of geeks they list

    Geek of Classics
    Geek of Math
    Geek of Music
    Geek of Science

So you see, there's more than one type of geek. I personally am more of a Music Geek than a Computer Geek.


P.S. Rusty - please please please fix the Preview bug when viewing the site with NetPositive... pretty please? I'll give you a cookie :->

Prview Bug (4.50 / 2) (#39)
by rusty on Tue Dec 05, 2000 at 09:03:33 PM EST

Discussing this with another Be user, it would appear that Net+ does not reload the page when you Preview, due to their being an anchor in the target of the form. I.e. The preview form is like: ...ACTION="/#here" METHOD="POST"..., and Net+ thinks that means we should post to the current page. This behavior patently doesn't make sense-- forms should always reload the page, even if there is an anchor.

Now, I may be wrong about this. If anyone can confirm or disprove that theory of what's happening, I'd appreciate it. If that is the case, though, then it's a bug in your browser (again!).

Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

Don't worry (3.00 / 12) (#32)
by smartbomb on Tue Dec 05, 2000 at 08:11:51 PM EST

While schools celebrate the skills of their athletes, musicians, and straight-A scholars. Often times the skills and talents of our "geeks" are not only forgotten, but looked down upon.

Don't worry. Your reward is being immediately employable. And if you choose to go to college/university (probably a good idea) you can use that skill to pay for your education (like I did). Additionally, you can as much as triple the value of any complimentary field you go into (like art).

boss (3.50 / 2) (#43)
by radar bunny on Tue Dec 05, 2000 at 09:23:32 PM EST

While schools celebrate the skills of their athletes, musicians, and straight-A scholars. Often times the skills and talents of our "geeks" are not only forgotten, but looked down upon.

Don't worry. Your reward is being immediately employable. And if you choose to go to college/university (probably a good idea) you can use that skill to pay for your education (like I did). Additionally, you can as much as triple the value of any complimentary field you go into (like art).

or as I always say --- remember that geek you used to pick on? Now I'm your boss.

[ Parent ]
yes but thats total bullshit (4.20 / 5) (#69)
by ChannelX on Tue Dec 05, 2000 at 11:46:44 PM EST

Its not true. At least not in my experience. All the "geeks" that I know are still the ones in the trenches coding...they're not the bosses. They wouldnt *want* to be the bosses.

[ Parent ]
Hello Jon Katz. (3.22 / 22) (#33)
by End on Tue Dec 05, 2000 at 08:15:02 PM EST

I am sick of this drivel about how us geeks are such a persecuted, miserable bunch of underappreciated geniuses.

Furthermore, I know better to assume that when a whiner comes complaining about some petty consequence he received, he is telling the whole story.

I know a website where you'll feel right at home. It seems to have gotten popular in the late-nineties and early 00's to cast geek unpopularity in a light similar to slavery and anti-semitism.But I'd like to think that we know better here.


Amen, brother! (2.66 / 6) (#45)
by Greyjack on Tue Dec 05, 2000 at 09:24:41 PM EST

Yes, I know, I'm me-tooing, but I'm just way tired of hearing about persecuted geeks.

Tip: Nobody's life in high school or elsewhere is all candy and fluffy pillows. People misunderstand other people, authority figures or no. The world isn't perfect. It's life. Get used to it. Have a cream soda and relax, hey?

Here is my philosophy: Everything changes (the word "everything" has just changed as the word "change" has: it now means "no change") --Ron Padgett

[ Parent ]
Oh look... (4.00 / 1) (#121)
by fester on Wed Dec 06, 2000 at 02:03:20 PM EST

But I'd like to think that we know better here.
Hey, it's another example of K5 elitism, great. As long as you keep comparing yourself to Slashdot, you will forever be stuck in it's shadow.

[ Parent ]
You have obviated the issue (1.00 / 1) (#127)
by End on Wed Dec 06, 2000 at 03:37:04 PM EST

You want elitism?

The guy who wrote the story is an elitist.

An "oh us poor geeks" elitist. An "us geeks are so misunderstood, feared and hated" elitist.

He has mistaken self-pity for moral high ground.

You seem to agree with him.

But hey, I've just been branded an elitist, so I obviously have no credibility.

[ Parent ]

There is no logic in this argument (4.00 / 1) (#131)
by ObeseWhale on Wed Dec 06, 2000 at 04:37:11 PM EST

If you are trying to state that by revealing the fact that geeks are misunderstood and unjustly punished by high school staff I am being an elitist I have no option but to disagree with you. Was Martin Luther King an "elitist" for fighting persecution against racial minorities? I am not stating that geeks are better people than others, that would be elitism, nor am I stating that we are worse than others. I am stating that we are unjustly treated poorly by high school staff, a claim made obvious by the poll results.


"The hunger for liberty may he suppressed for a time; yet never exterminated. Man's natural instinct is for freedom, and no power on earth can succeed in crushing it for very long."
-Alexander Berkman
[ Parent ]
There you go again (3.00 / 1) (#165)
by End on Thu Dec 07, 2000 at 03:03:58 PM EST

...comparing imagined geek persecutions to racism, exactly as I stated in my first comment.

The whole self-pity thing is nothing more than elitsm in disguise.

And another thing: nothing is made obvious by results from a poll wich asks "Have you ever been a victim of school suspension?" How objective.

[ Parent ]

Posters, eh? (4.06 / 15) (#49)
by vsync on Tue Dec 05, 2000 at 09:55:08 PM EST

Heh, I had an experience with posters.

That aside, I had a number of tech-related problems at school. First, there was the general assumption that everyone used a Windows box with Word. Teachers would say, "this paper must be in Times New Roman". I ignored them and used Computer Modern; I actually hoped to get in trouble so I could sue them for using government power to support a particular company.

Technology was mismanaged, too. They thought they knew about computers and the Internet, which was bad because they didn't. School computers were only available if you were researching a specific assignment for a specific class. Way to encourage learning.

They had some garbage product, "Foolproof Security", intended to keep us from using such evil things as telnet. Easily bypassed, of course, but I couldn't let anyone see that I was pasting URLs into an Emacs session at home (for further research for my paper) or they'd kick me off for "using e-mail". Never mind that if I was "disadvantaged by the Digital Divide", those computers might be my only chance to correspond with an expert in the field I was supposed to be writing a paper on. And never mind that telnet is, like, not mail. If they didn't understand it, it was mail.

I found a Word macro virus infesting the school once. I pointed it out, and they yelled me out of the room and got their "expert". Ha! They wanted to blame me for the virus, I could tell, but I would have laughed if they tried.

The school was one of those forward-looking technology-oriented schools to prepare students for the new Internet millennium. Never mind that the school district's domain refreshes itself to its IP. Never mind that the yearbook had on the cover "http://jeffco.k12.co.us/high/standley.com". You could tell they were technology-oriented because every so often we had to write a paper using "Internet sources". It didn't really matter what we said, or who we cited, but a certain percentage of our sources had to be off the Internet. ("Internet" == "WWW", of course. Once I wrote a personal narrative about something that happened on a MUCK, and my English teacher insisted it was fictional.)

I got my GED and split.

"The problem I had with the story, before I even finished reading, was the copious attribution of thoughts and ideas to vsync. What made it worse was the ones attributed to him were the only ones that made any sense whatsoever."

Awesome poster. (none / 0) (#123)
by fester on Wed Dec 06, 2000 at 02:09:59 PM EST

Just the right amount of sarcasm and biting truth. Wish I could have been there to help you :)

[ Parent ]
Persecution is an Individual Thing (3.80 / 10) (#51)
by eskimo on Tue Dec 05, 2000 at 10:00:33 PM EST

I am not responding directly to the disclaimer at the beginning, as others already have. Suffice to say though, that I am sure there were tons of people who labelled me as a geek in HS, even though I was not especially computer literate.

What the real question, at least how you phrased it seems to be, is 'Why am I the martyr.' People choose martyrdom. Actually, that would be a great T shirt...'Choose Martyrdom.'

I agree that you were a subject to some pretty shortsighted administering, but thems the breaks. Kudos to Dad for stepping up. But you are not despised because of your skill. You are despised because you choose to be despised. If you know more about something than somebody else, why not try and share a little of your knowledge. Or even a hint as to your motivation.

The more 'geeks' romantacize what they do, the greater the chance for resentment. I'm not saying you need to teach Joe Blow how to do what you do. But for sure, telling him what it does, and maybe even why it does it are good ideas. If what you know is always going to be your trump card, you are inviting the world to use you, or worse, beat the living crap out of you then use you.

I am my own home. - Banana Yoshimoto

Agreement (3.25 / 4) (#52)
by ObeseWhale on Tue Dec 05, 2000 at 10:03:29 PM EST

Yes, that's exactly what I did, but they wouldn't listen until my father actually defended me. Even someone as computer illiterate as my father (his job doesn't require any use of the machines) saw how ridiculous what was going on was.


"The hunger for liberty may he suppressed for a time; yet never exterminated. Man's natural instinct is for freedom, and no power on earth can succeed in crushing it for very long."
-Alexander Berkman
[ Parent ]
Wrong idea (3.75 / 4) (#62)
by CAIMLAS on Tue Dec 05, 2000 at 11:12:07 PM EST

From personal experience, that just leads to further alienation on the part of geeks. When in high school, I attempted to explain to the other students what I was doing - connecting to the internet through the school's dialup connection (a small school) and then telnetting to a server I had acess to. As it was, I was then further scrutinized and more extensively watched by the know-nothing administration and media-fed students.

From my experience, the best idea is to tell them something that sounds simple. "I'm just copying my file" and they'll believe you. Sure, you're telneting somewhere, issuing commands - but they don't truely know the difference. Some will, the majority will just go, "Well, ok" and walk away. Even the 'intelligent' ones.

Socialism and communism better explained by a psychologist than a political theorist.
[ Parent ]

Maybe its not school's fault (3.55 / 9) (#53)
by Elendale on Tue Dec 05, 2000 at 10:07:25 PM EST

Or perhaps, our school systems and geeks are incompatible. I know that while i enjoy learning and am a (marginally) intelligent person, i have yet to see a school that suits my needs. I was one of the poster children of the 'alternative learning style' programs in my elementry school years (i think, time is another thing i have troubles with) and it taught me one thing: everyone learns in different ways, the guys who get straight 'A's happen to work with the way schools work now while many students with real problems could be straight 'A' students under different conditions.
I am reminded of a student i had the pleasure of studying with one year. He was a trouble student, no doubt about it. He had ran away from home (really ran away too, from MN to the Mexico border) and was messing with some real heavy duty drugs. Of course, he was probably the smartest (or at least one of the smartest) kids in school.
Why is it that so many bright people end up on the 'wrong side'? Its because their personalities do not mix with the format for school. You wouldn't expect a math PHD to sing, or a music major to solve complex differential equations- so why is everyone expected to work under the same system for learning? I learn the best in two ways: read, and experiment. When i burn my hands, i learn more than if i sit through a lecture about safety in chemistry. When i read a book i can go at my own pace rather than at a pace decided by someone who has to teach twenty nine other students. Perhaps we should set up an 'open source' school- made by geeks, for geeks, anyone can contribute.

-Elendale (no flames plz, just me dreaming)

When free speech is outlawed, only criminals will complain.

Absolutely! (4.50 / 4) (#54)
by ObeseWhale on Tue Dec 05, 2000 at 10:30:05 PM EST

Your post is correct in many ways! Although not directly related to the article, I find it very true that kids intelligent kids with eclectic lifestyles often have a very tough time in school. Perhaps I serve as somewhat of an example. I recently recieved a SAT score of 1530, 780 verbal, 750 math. Every single student other than me with that SAT score has straight A's, while I'm more of a B student (mainly because I can't stand doing homework). This isn't because I'm lazy. No, I'm actually very dedicated to the tasks I enjoy, such as learning about computers. But when it comes to the rote, boring tasks I am often assigned in school, the only classes I find to be fun are Math because of my excellent teacher, and government because I'm a lover of thinking and history.

I've noticed many things that set me and other such "underachievers" apart from the majority. I've noticed that the "underachievers" tend to question the blind conformity of the masses, tend to be nonconformists of sorts. They often are very independent people who simply question the point of doing so much rote schoolwork. I believe our schools should seriously look into having tracks for students like us.


"The hunger for liberty may he suppressed for a time; yet never exterminated. Man's natural instinct is for freedom, and no power on earth can succeed in crushing it for very long."
-Alexander Berkman
[ Parent ]
Yes, i know what you mean (4.20 / 5) (#56)
by Tr3534 on Tue Dec 05, 2000 at 10:43:15 PM EST

This is summed up best by someone I met at my school:

"The smart people are in the top classes getting A's because they're smart. The truely intelligent people can be found in the lower classes getting C's because they just don't care."

Sigmentation Fault: Post Dumped.
[ Parent ]
Go read the mensa.sigs.giftedchildren (4.75 / 4) (#72)
by bgalehouse on Wed Dec 06, 2000 at 12:37:14 AM EST

Basically, as the IQ increases, eccentricity, tends to increase also. There is a comment somewhere about IQ being a circle.

Anyway, if you check the archives of the abovemetioned group. Or go looking into other resources for big brains in school, (start here) you'll find out several things. One is that up to about 2 standard deviations (IQ=130 to 150, depending on how the test is normed), students are considered 'gifted' and can generally do well in normal classrooms, especially with minor accomidations. 4 standard deviations is 'highly gifted'. Highly gifted children (and beyond) tend to have trouble in a normal school, even with accomodation.

Anyway, this may or may not be relavent to your situation. The correllation between 'geekyness' and IQ scores might be high, but again it might not.

But if you know anybody getting C's because they are too smart to be interested, tell them to go get tested. No excuses. If the test puts them into the gifted catagory, they can demand accomedation. Nothing wrong with being an entitled special interest group when the situation is serious. Seems there is some laws regarding this. Seems that it is possible for a parent to make quite a bit a noise when they are ignored. I recommend starting with bringing in a test report and politely requesting accomodation in the subjects most in need of enrichment.

Learning to find pieces of the system that can be made to work for your own advantage is an important part of growing up. Might as well have fun with it.

[ Parent ]

Heh (4.25 / 4) (#75)
by Elendale on Wed Dec 06, 2000 at 01:29:23 AM EST

Believe me when i say this: underachievers and non-conformists are very similar. I fall into both and of my close friends (in real life, now) three of the four also fall into both categories with the fourth being an underachiever who gets straight 'A's (graduated with 3.9, gym class dropped it).

What's more, i have no problem doing work that is relevant to the learning process- but i absolutely abhor the concept of 'busy work', that is: work given by a teacher who is too lazy (sorry!) to bother with real work. Crosswords puzzles were my least favorite thing in the world- perhaps because i had a math teacher fond of them- and i always managed to find interesting/evil things to do with them. When the teachers complained, my retort was "If you don't care enough to hand out homework that is of value to the course, i don't care to do it".

On a side note, how exactly did you manage to pull off 'B's when you don't like doing homework? Did you just do it anyway or did it not count for much. I know i'm both lazy and i don't like homework, so it never got done... I got beaten around by a class that knocked 1% off your final grade if homework assignments aren't handed in (and no late work is allowed)with the final grade for the course averaging first and second quarter grades, thus making each first-quarter homework assignment drop 2% off your final grade. While i'm talking about this, did you know that in studies done (some colleges did them, can't remember which ones *argh*) showed that, on average, people learned better when there were no grades involved? Its just that our perception of 'hard worker' throws the scale off.

-Elendale (man, talk about a tangent...)

When free speech is outlawed, only criminals will complain.

[ Parent ]
not really persecuted am I...... (3.14 / 7) (#58)
by zorander on Tue Dec 05, 2000 at 11:01:02 PM EST

Well, I can't say I have experienced much persecution. This is mainly due to the fact that I have trust of important computer people at my school. It also helps a lot of you offer to help whoever's in charge of computers there. If they're not stupid about it, it can help a lot. I just recently started getting paid (~$30 a week, but hey. it's during my free periods) for helping in our computer room. I've also managed to befriend the programming teacdher (uh..it happens when you're in an AB level AP course and you're pullign a 100+ average) The things I have done? I make frequent visits to my website, I'm always in command prompt, I installed DJGPP on the server, downloaded Commodore emulators to tool around with assembley language. I even downloaded and compiled Allegro so I could work on a game I was writing. It really helps to have the administration on your side. Even when the district monitoring people have called up about me (it's happened once or twice). The call goes straight to the person who employs me and they know I'm not doing anything too dumb. Brian
---- Want to get into Linux? Cheap systems available now at eLinuxBox.com.
Heaven. (2.00 / 2) (#65)
by ObeseWhale on Tue Dec 05, 2000 at 11:34:58 PM EST

Your school is heaven. I don't think most schools are like this, however...


"The hunger for liberty may he suppressed for a time; yet never exterminated. Man's natural instinct is for freedom, and no power on earth can succeed in crushing it for very long."
-Alexander Berkman
[ Parent ]
Just my $0.02 (3.66 / 6) (#59)
by AaronDev on Tue Dec 05, 2000 at 11:01:43 PM EST

I am a high school student, and I also consider myself a geek. However, I have never had any of the experiences you speak about. In fact, as a geek, my teachers for the most part respect me. In addition, I have been given various passwords and permission to help wherever necessary.

Maybe my school is different from the norm, but I seriously doubt it. We still have problems with fights, teachers, and principals. But, the geeks are actually pretty well respected by most. In my computer classes (especially programming) I enjoy the opportunity to help and teach the other students. That being said, I try to at least ask permission before I do anything outside exactly what I am told to do on the computers.

Discuss everything here
Back in the day (3.50 / 2) (#70)
by Jordan Block on Tue Dec 05, 2000 at 11:48:57 PM EST

god I feel old....Back in high school, I was certainly a geek, Some of my teachers knew that I was capable of way more that the curriculum and I ended up running most of the school's network for my grade 11 and 12 years, I didnt get praised for it, and I didnt ask to be praised. If you want to be exhaulted by your peers, cure cancer or something, if you're a geek, be a geek. Nuff said

[ Parent ]
Contribute (4.30 / 10) (#61)
by Breconides on Tue Dec 05, 2000 at 11:02:29 PM EST

I'm a high school student also, a sophomore in the suburban environment of Marietta, GA. I don't experience these kinds of things, even though I am probably the most "geeky" as far as my knowledge of computers in the entire school. This message seems to me to be saying that someone who can code well or has computer skills should be exhalted as much as any athlete or musician or other person in their school because they have a talent and skill. Ok, so you have a talent, but how is it contributing to your school? How is it contributing to the experience of the other students, the honor or prestige of your school, or anything other than your personal computer experience? These athletes, musicians, and straight-A scholars you speak of are doing something in your school. They're improving it's reputation while also using and improving what talent and skills they have.

As you can probably tell, I'm fairly involved in different activities in my school. I'm in marching and jazz bands, I'm involved heavily with the theatre department, and I'm also a member of a few clubs such as an anti-tobacco advocacy group. In all of these endeavors I'm improving myself and my school, and it also gets me some recognition and some respect. Granted, it's not as much recognition and respect as an athlete would receive, but I'm doing something.

So go actually contribute something substantial to your school and then come back and tell me how they treat you.

--Luke Price

Too late (2.57 / 7) (#64)
by ObeseWhale on Tue Dec 05, 2000 at 11:32:54 PM EST

Sorry, I've allready done that. I designed its web page, helped sponsor charity events as a class president, the list goes on. I am fifth in the state for impromptu public speech and second for debate, which in your opinion I guess gives the school some "prestige".

However, I am not in any anti-drug groups, I think that's a waste of my time. I am not an "all-american" kid. Yes, I wear a lot of black. And I'm damned vocal with my social/political views. You, my friend, are an "all-american", your school loves you. I am not. This has nothing to do with prestige and reputation. In this case it's conformity.


"The hunger for liberty may he suppressed for a time; yet never exterminated. Man's natural instinct is for freedom, and no power on earth can succeed in crushing it for very long."
-Alexander Berkman
[ Parent ]
Damned right. (2.50 / 2) (#134)
by SexyAlexie on Wed Dec 06, 2000 at 05:28:25 PM EST

Conformity is a disease.

[ Parent ]
What's to celebrate? (4.00 / 12) (#66)
by jwb on Tue Dec 05, 2000 at 11:36:02 PM EST

I read through your post, and I can't see where there's anything that would cause your classmates to celebrate you in any way. That isn't to say that you aren't a fine person, but if you want people to think about you the same way they think about the football quarterback, you need to do something that is positive and visible.

If you are in high school in the USA, want to have a high profile, and posess the talents of the mind, there are a number of good strategies. One is to participate in competitions which pit your school against another. You should join the academic team or the quiz bowl team, if you have them. Try to achieve a high honor, by earning a national merit scholarship or similar recognition. Get your name spammed everywhere by writing or editing the school's newspaper, yearbook, or website. Take a research project or invention to the Internation Science and Engineering Fair.

In all things you do, try to distinguish yourself somehow. Become the section leader or drum major of your band, the president of the honor society, president of the student council, editor of the yearbook, captain of the soccer team, and carry a 4.0 with every honors and advanced placement course you can jam into your schedule.

The only way to be celebrated or even noted in your high school campaign is to distinguish yourself through the quality of everything you do while bringing fame and honor to your school.

Same old same old.. (3.77 / 18) (#67)
by nebby on Tue Dec 05, 2000 at 11:37:42 PM EST

I too am sick of this "geeks are oppressed" diatribe.

In my experience the majority of geeks that are "oppressed" are put down not because of jealousy or unappreciation of their skills or "genius" but because of their social ineptness and superiority complexes. The geeks hate the football players et al just as much as the football players supposedly hate them.. who's at fault here eh?

These superiority complexes shine through everytime I read a thread attached to a Katz article.

Yes yes, there are exceptions to every rule. Authority has gotten out of control in some cases where kids have been given too much shit for wearing trenchcoats or whatever, but I'm betting these are the exception and NOT the rule.

To the poster: what the HELL were you thinking sending a message to an administrator and not expecting it to piss him off? I know if I was running a school and some smart ass kid popped a window on MY desktop saying "hello" I'd be a bit concerned and if nothing else, annoyed. If I didn't know better, I'd probably bet it was a "hacker" hands down.

I've had no trouble balancing computers into my life (though sometimes I'll find myself coding late on the weekends =)) and I've found the only geeks I've met who've been given shit their whole lives are usually rather unpleasant people to deal with.

Half-Empty: A global community of thoughts ideas and knowledge.
That's the thing... (none / 0) (#152)
by dice on Thu Dec 07, 2000 at 01:31:30 AM EST

you SHOULD know better if you're in any position of authority.

"It's magic computers, and i don't know how to do that, so it must be some kid messing things up, or heaven forbid hacking"

that type of attitude has to be eradicated. if you're in a position of authority in a high school, stuff like this happens, people should have a basic level of proficiency, or at least understanding.

[ Parent ]
My HS Experience (2.50 / 12) (#73)
by dyskordus on Wed Dec 06, 2000 at 12:56:37 AM EST

I was a geek in high school, sort of. I liked computers, books, and so on. But I also liked deathmetal, marijuana explosives, Jim Beam, and fucking with the establishment. (still do actually)

I did a bit of vandalism (electronic and physical) here and there, changing wallpaper on windows boxes to porn, defacing posters about next week's football game, etc.

I also used to do just oddball shit. There was a giant concrete planter out in front of the school that had been empty for at least five years. One day some friends and I turned it upside down. I turned off the electricity to a few classrooms once in a while, and I also stole a bench from the hallway.

I also used to fuck with jocks (I am about 6'3", 200 lbs). I insulted their intelligence, to their faces. I whipped pennies at the back of their heads. I made sure that the knew what I could cook up at home. I made sure that the knew that there if I went down there were at least five others to back me up at any momemt. I loved to see the very people who liked to pick on those who were smaller than them getting some of their own medicine.

I also went to (junior) college for the last two years I was in High School. The state of Washington has a program called Running Start that allows high school students to go to community colleges at state expense. If you live in Washington and are still in High School, get in this program!

I'm 20 now, and I have a decent job. I bought a house back in September. I'll be able to retire when I'm 50, maybe sooner.

If you're still in high school, don't whine about it, either get out (GED, don't just quit going and work at McBurger) or have some fun tearing the place apart! If you are reading this site, you are far too inteligent to be wasting yourself in a miserable environment.

"Reality is less than television."-Brian Oblivion.

Hm... (3.00 / 2) (#96)
by caine on Wed Dec 06, 2000 at 10:44:06 AM EST

Explain exactly how screwing up for others, and how behaving the exact same way that the people you don't like do, will help anyone?


[ Parent ]

Immaturaty (none / 0) (#106)
by ucblockhead on Wed Dec 06, 2000 at 12:11:00 PM EST

<I>I also used to fuck with jocks (I am about 6'3", 200 lbs). I insulted their intelligence, to their faces. I whipped pennies at the back of their heads.</I>

So you think that acting like an immature little brat was a good thing?

Me, I found that as a geek in high school, that if you just treated other people like human beings, they usually treated you like human beings. For the most part. And the rest can usually be put of by the correct expression of passive contempt.

Nice guys and pricks are both spread equally in the set "Jock" and "Geek".
This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
[ Parent ]
Thought I'd get in on the act (2.92 / 13) (#74)
by irksome on Wed Dec 06, 2000 at 01:11:44 AM EST

(Although many others have posted stories of their experience, I'm adding my 2 cents becasue it's a perspective that hasn't really been mentioned yet)

In my school, there were 3 groups of people that had anything to do with computers. There were the Librarians, who thought that they were the controllers of anything electronic in the building, solely because one of the public computer areas happened to be in the library. There were the Business teachers, who taught stuff like Typing, Excel, and VB Programming, and there were the Tech Assistants, who were the ones who actually fixed the stuff.

The Librarians were very paranoid about the internet. They had all the computers locked down (software called foolproof (all Mac computers (ick))). They were very paranoid about anyone doing anything on the computer. They got mad at me for asking them to unlock the chooser so I could access the Appleshare server. (I had the password (actually legitimately as you will see later on (but also very easy to guess)) and could have turned the protection off myself, but that would have angered them even more.) They didn't know a lot about the technology, and were surprised when I was able to pull a file off the server.

The business teachers were (with the exception of one (the only one I actually had. I knew the others by reputation)) totally clueless. They had mostly PC-based labs, and didn't know anything about how to use the computers. They could not control the students that were using the computers, and the security system (StormWindows) was easily disabled.

Lastly, the Technical Assistants. I was lucky, and managed to get a position (for credit too!) as a Student Aide for them. I was trusted with passwords for Foolproof and StormWindows, as well as access to a special area on the Appleshare server (I'd say root, but since it was a mac before OSX, there's no such thing as root) They also listened to my ideas, and generally, if I had an idea that would solve some problems, I had free reign to implement it. (at my suggestion, the whole school went to static IP's, because the DHCP server kept crashing and noone really knew a lot about how to fix it). I loved having that position, because I got respect from the teachers across the building, and I could use it as an excuse to get out of class if needed.

As far as the social aspect of high school, I wasn't tormented or anything for being a geek. I didn't have a lot of close friends, but I could talk to just about anyone. (I was on the student council, despite not being in the "popular group")

I think I am, therefore I'm not.
parents (2.84 / 13) (#80)
by zencode on Wed Dec 06, 2000 at 02:36:53 AM EST

not a lot of parents lament not making the big bug discovery, they miss making the big pass. they miss not making the varsity cheerleading squad. i think programming or geeking or hacking (in the very broad, take something to the limit sense) is generally very personal. this is why rock climbing will never be big bucks to espn - it's far more interesting to the person doing it. team sports lend themselves to vicarious living, hence their popularity.

we either spend our lives rejecting our parents values or living them. which, i suppose, isn't saying much.

my .02


accomplishments etc. (2.69 / 13) (#81)
by cybin on Wed Dec 06, 2000 at 02:43:53 AM EST

i think this is an interesting perspective... but, keep in mind that all schools are different. my high school (a private, all-male institution) revered pretty much ONLY the accomplishments of its atheletes. me, being both a geek and a musician (and, at the time, a theatre kid), got shit on too... many times. i was a "fag" because i did theatre, i was a "freak" because i did music, and i was, of course, a "fucking geek" because of the computery stuff i did.

everybody shut up after we got caught hacking (email me if you want the story) because they were all afraid we'd give them bad credit... aah the beauty of the stereotype.

hang in there, college is much better for our sort of people.

Funny to look at it another way (4.22 / 18) (#82)
by flieghund on Wed Dec 06, 2000 at 04:08:47 AM EST

Each day as I walk through the hallways of my high school in the urban environment of Anytown, USA, I am exposed to countless banners and slogans splayed across the walls. Some of them inform me of the evils of dealing in drugs, while others inform me of my duty to enlist in the armed forces so that I may learn to kill others as a showing of my American pride. Still others show off the heroes of our time; the basketball players, successful businessmen, and even once in a while a glamorous scientist. Indeed, just about everybody is represented in the walls of my school. Everyone except the janitor.

Some may say that this lack of celebration of janitorial achievements is completely understandable. Most people have never heard the name Louis Jones, let alone understand him or the revolution he has fathered. Then again, we could turn to examples of "janitors" that are well-known in our society. Alan Greenspan, whether you like the guy or not, has accomplished quite a bit as a businessman and a janitor, and yet we sure don't see any celebration of his genius on the wall.

This apathy towards janitors, our culture, our accomplishments, and our heroes on the walls of our schools are only a very minor symptom of the disease, however. The seeds of what seems to be a social vilification of janitors have become apparent to me among the administration of my high school. And from what I've heard from friends across North America, I'm not alone....

I could probably go on, if I could just stop laughing for a moment.

Seriously, though, this is really turning into perpetual Chicken Little syndrome. Everyone's a little boy crying wolf. How many different types of careers are their? You want a poster for every career type? I doubt your high school has enough space to support so many, even if you used them as carpet and ceiling tiles!

I was a straight-A student through high school. I also considered myself a computer geek. As it turns out, many people would have also called me a jock -- I swam competitively (varsity team with District finals qualification all four years) as well as playing water polo. It seems that people always like to point out that their own special case is being neglected -- yet we too often forget how unique each of us is. What you would consider a role model (or someone worthy to be put on a poster) is very likely a personal view not shared universally even by your compatriots. (Think vi vs. emacs.) So double, or triple the number of posters from above.

Like I said, I was a swimmer. Talk about being left out in the cold! Our swimming and water polo teams were consistently in the top half of the athletic district, but we were all but ignored by the administration. Our 0-10 football team got more attention than our 9-2 water polo squad! This is not to say that this was right; but it was life, and we dealt with it. Occasionally scrimmaging with the football team (in the pool, naturally) also kept our spirits up.

As far as violating school policies -- ignorance is not an excuse. Even if it is an unwritten policy. Being polite and apologizing profusely will generally get you out of trouble if you genuinely were not aware of the policy. Being snotty, arrogant, or aggressive will likely get your account yanked, you suspended, and/or any variety of other nasties. This applies to everything in life, by the way, not just moronic high school administrators. "Killing them with kindness" is a vastly superior strategy, especially when faced with such lopsided arsenals.

Okay, this post is going nowhere fast; I apologize for that. Profusely ;-). In closing: develop a coping mechanism. Or at least learn to hide your tracks better.

Using a Macintosh is like picking your nose: everyone likes to do it, but no one will admit to it.
Who let Jon Katz in here? (2.24 / 25) (#84)
by PenguinWrangler on Wed Dec 06, 2000 at 05:06:16 AM EST

Blah blah blah oh us poor geeks blah blah blah...

NB: Compulsively whining because you don't get things all your own way is not an endearing character attribute.

"Information wants to be paid"
Growing up (2.50 / 2) (#102)
by ucblockhead on Wed Dec 06, 2000 at 11:50:37 AM EST

Advice you ought to take yourself.

Please stop compulsively whining because Kuro5hin isn't what you want it to be.

If you don't like it, don't read it. Stop trying to geek-bully people into silence.

This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
[ Parent ]
Start a club (3.61 / 13) (#85)
by Paul Johnson on Wed Dec 06, 2000 at 05:21:15 AM EST

The school Richard Feynman went to had a "math team" which competed in national competitions. He got on it. It was very much a way that a geek like Feynman could get recognition for intellect rather than being a Jock.

Do schools still have this kind of stuff?

My wife is a teacher here in the UK. She runs a Warhammer club (fantasy wargaming) Tuesday evenings. Its become the club where the school geeks and oddballs hang out, and it particularly means that the younger ones get support from the older ones.

So maybe you should try kicking off a computer club. Is there any regional stuff you could do which could bring credit to the school? Like programming competitions? That would get their attention. Get some people together, find a teacher to supervise (they don't need to know computers, they just need to be there physically) and make a proposal.

You are lost in a twisty maze of little standards, all different.

We had a Math League (3.00 / 2) (#94)
by Kartoffel on Wed Dec 06, 2000 at 10:08:01 AM EST

At my very rural high school in Pennsylvania, the mathematics teachers encouraged kids to participate in PAML, the Pennsylvania Math League. Every other month, we got to take an hour off over lunch to get together and take a battery of 10 challenging math problems. Our scores were compared to other schools around Pennsylvania. It was a fun exam because the problems encouraged lateral thinking; we got an extra hour off over lunch to take the exam; and the school liked it because if we did well our high school looked good.

My high school was very backwards in other ways, but mostly because of its location way out in the boonies. To this day our county is the only one in the state of Pennsylvania that has no traffic lights. (5 bonus points if you can guess the county, 10 bonus points if you can guess the high school).

Jocks and nerds were surprisingly pretty well integrated. My computer science teacher was also the track & field and basketball coach.

[ Parent ]

Hans Woyda Maths Challenge (5.00 / 1) (#164)
by Jobby on Thu Dec 07, 2000 at 02:51:28 PM EST

I go to a UK Secondary (High) School and we have a four-person team for the Hans Woyda Maths challenge, which is a national competition. We recently got into the Cup (The higher league) for the first time ever, so we're doing really well.

Recognition? Well, some of my friends know about it in a vague kind of way, but we've never been very high profile. Although apparently this victory will earn us a mention in assembly! (For the first time in at least five years...).

I've never been a sporting person, not on any teams or anything, but this makes up a lot for that. Geeks (computer or otherwise) need more encouragement in general, and competitions in bridge, chess and mathematics (to name a few) goes a long way in this. Entrance in competitions such as the British Informatics Olympiad (Programming, there's probably an American equivalent =) is great too.

In a more on topic way, I have to echo the comments of another poster and encourage geeks to be helpful, friendly and understanding rather than uncooperative and aloof. Although it may annoy some teachers that students ask you for help rather than them, the intelligent teachers end up thanking you for it.

I don't post much, and I don't do any 'essay' subjects at school (A-Level) so please accept my apologies if this post was a little (!) vague :-)


"Ah yes, comets, the icebergs of the sky." --Zapp Branigan, commander of the starship Titanic

[ Parent ]
Social Skills are Important (3.75 / 12) (#86)
by lucas on Wed Dec 06, 2000 at 05:35:14 AM EST

In HS, I didn't like to show off my hacking skills because it always got me busted in some reason or another. I'm not talking about busted as a "bad" thing per se, I'm talking "busted" in the sense of becoming an instant, unlimited supply of tech support for my teachers.

Naturally, most high schoolers still have egos to fulfill, and so I sort of got a sort of power trip off of helping people even though I disliked it. There was one distinct benefit that "teaching the teachers" during class and after school gave me, however.

Social skills are a big part of being classified as an outcast, and I found that the more I talked with people and sort of learned to "hack" with conversation, the more successful I would be later on. When I figured this out in HS and started to implement it, I found that I could still be a geek and still keep it real without being perceived as strange.

I learned that average people like geeks when they are friendly, real, optimistic, and willing to PATIENTLY share their knowledge. If you act disgruntled and misunderstood or arrogant, people revert back to namecalling. There is virtue in humility and trust.

If you want to succeed as a hacker, it won't be by showing off the fact that you can telnet into your box at home or messaging the admin. I once cracked the HP-UX server and changed the MOTD at a college I once went to -- it nearly got me kicked out of school. These are cocky mistakes, but we are all guilty of them.

On SNL (3.50 / 2) (#107)
by TheHolyCow on Wed Dec 06, 2000 at 12:14:26 PM EST

> I learned that average people like geeks when they are friendly, real,
> optimistic, and willing to PATIENTLY share their knowledge. If you act
> disgruntled and misunderstood or arrogant, people revert back to
> namecalling. There is virtue in humility and trust.

I'm sure some people here watch Saturday Night Live, and have seen the Mike Myers geek computer-guy character that is the perfect example of what _not_ to be, but what many geeks share at least some traits with...

[ Parent ]
Advice from an old geezer. (4.05 / 17) (#88)
by Apuleius on Wed Dec 06, 2000 at 06:11:47 AM EST

A few years ago a teenager on the street approached me and addressed me as "sir". It ruined my day.

A few weeks later it happened again. I didn't like it, but it didn't shock me.

The third time it happened I thought "decades from now I will slip on some ice and a kid like this one will help me."

Each of those times somebody unwittingly gave me a reminder of my own mortality, and that is never a pleasant experience. To use the cliche, it takes a 'real man' (or woman) to deal with those reminders in a graceful way. The reason things like this are a source for so many jokes is that humor is one outlet people use to deal with this experience. Some people deal well; others take their frustration over this by attacking the nearest target of opportunity, in other words, you. Freud ascribed this behavior to the 'id', the lowest partner in his trinity of the mind.

This is what you do when you use a school computer in a way the teachers don't know about. There is nothing wrong with doing that. But some teachers will not deal well with this, and you cannot change this aspect of their personality. Take note and do not repeat that mistake. An analogy that suits this scene well is the dinosaur one. A manly dinosaur sees a mammal underfoot and sends out for tarpit brochures. A wimpy dinosaur stomps that mammal. (Okay, the analogy isn't perfect, but you get the idea.) If your class dinosaur is a wimp, don't surprise him. A gentle reminder that you're more familiar with Windows 95 is better than him walking up and noticing that you have a DOS prompt up. If he still screams "hacker!" he's a pitiful excuse for an adult, but you can't change that.

Okay, time for my geritol.

There is a time and a place for everything, and it's called college. (The South Park chef)
Getting out... (4.16 / 6) (#90)
by shirobara on Wed Dec 06, 2000 at 09:17:46 AM EST

(I realize this is rather offtopic, but this article and all the replies put me in mind of it. I apologize.)

I (like so many others) didn't dig the high school thing for a billion reasons which would be tedious to get into. So my mom and I started researching Ohio's post-secondary options program during the end of my sophomore year.

Ohio's post-secondary options program allows high school juniors and seniors to attend classes at a college or community college, and to receive both high school and college credit for these classes. In addition, the state pays for your tutition and books. Should you attend a public state college later on, the credits you received from your time in the program will automatically transfer (though with other colleges - private, out-of-state - you're not guaranteed that.) From what I've read and heard about other states' programs it works pretty much the same way in other states.

I honestly believe that this was the best thing that ever happened to me, education-wise. Sophomore year had been extremely rough, but with my junior year and my time being split between college and high school, I gained power. I had more freedom and responsibility than I had ever had before. My classes at college were more intelligent than my high school classes had been, and when I came back to high school for the last half of the day, it was to take classes I was genuinely interested in. Before I had been pretty bitter about this system that ignored me and rewarded everything I didn't have, this system that I couldn't escape. Afterwards - I had escaped it. It wasn't my reality anymore. (I ended up graduating after my junior year, which is another story entirely, but my college experience ended up helping me convince the school administration to let me graduate, and also helped me get into the college of my choice earlier than I would have.)

My point in posting all of this here? ---I had friends who were every bit as bitter and unhappy in the system as I was. While I left the environment, they stayed in it, continuing to do pointless acts of mild rebellion or getting progressively more bitter. Later I would tell them - you can get out. It's not hard and it's rewarding and you don't have to come back to this school ever again. If a single one of these people ever took what I said seriously, I don't know about it.

So if you're interested in something like this, talk to your school counselor, call up local colleges and see if they participate.

Once again I apologize for the off-topicness of this post. Reading this thread reminded me of all those people who were just as bitter as me and didn't do anything about it, so I felt it ought to be said.

Not Offtopic (none / 0) (#162)
by Fjord on Thu Dec 07, 2000 at 02:31:24 PM EST

Um, yeah, i don't see this being off-topic at all. In fact, it's darn good advice. I wish someone had told me about programs like that in HS. I didn't have the hardest time (ie, no actual persectution), but it was a very lonely time. College is the exact opposite. I love it.

Quick plug; if any nerd feels out of place, check out our bunch of nerds here.

No one can force an OS down your throat, you ultimately have to pay for it, one way or another. - rednecktek
[ Parent ]
Offtopic in the sense that... (none / 0) (#163)
by shirobara on Thu Dec 07, 2000 at 02:49:55 PM EST

...the question was "How can I play this game?" and my answer was "Don't play the game!" That's not much of an answer if you want to at least give the game a shot. But heck, it's a good answer to me. ^_^

[ Parent ]
Psychology (3.62 / 8) (#91)
by end0parasite on Wed Dec 06, 2000 at 09:58:51 AM EST

If you're referring to kids making fun of geeks that's another branch of psychology. It all has to do with having a need to put yourself above others. It helps you get laid. Evolution. I don't think you need to have it explained to you.

I, too, say you start a computer club. Just so everyone knows, I took your advice and talked to my Sys Admin about a computer club and it is getting started.

My school only has about 250 students. No, not 2500, just 250. Maybe that has something to do with the fact that my Sys Admin actually knows what the heck he's talking about. I have, in front of him, telnetted into my linux box at home. He thought it was "awesome".

I would be an outcast, except that I made my debut in high school as an amateur hypnotist and magician. Although I have quit the latter art I am still at the same social level as the rest of them.

If you stand up for what you believe in even in the face of those peers who forsake it you will gain respect for your doggedness. I have.

A good example (4.00 / 1) (#93)
by ObeseWhale on Wed Dec 06, 2000 at 10:06:27 AM EST

This is definately a great counterexample to what I have shown. It seems as if in smaller school environments such as parochial, private schools and small schools it is possible for one to show that he/she is indeed not some sort of hacking goon, but just a student who knows how to get work done well. Unfortunately it seems that in my school this isn't working well. As I mentioned my teacher indeed encouraged me to develop the net send program (she even uses it right now to send messages to the class), it was the administration who really doesn't know me well (my school is relatively large) who started to harass me.

I'm definately going to take the suggestion of a computing club very seriously, what activities would you suggest we undertake? What should be our founding principles? Do you have any successful examples?


"The hunger for liberty may he suppressed for a time; yet never exterminated. Man's natural instinct is for freedom, and no power on earth can succeed in crushing it for very long."
-Alexander Berkman
[ Parent ]
Reply (none / 0) (#171)
by end0parasite on Fri Dec 08, 2000 at 09:22:22 AM EST

Technically we haven't started it yet. But I, along with the supervisor, have some ideas. My ideas are to either learn to program, as we have no programming class here, and then start up a web site with our own server running Linux or BSD and make a web game. The other idea is to learn programming and then start up our own GNU project. I don't know what our supervisor has in mind yet.

[ Parent ]
Thus far... (3.80 / 10) (#92)
by ObeseWhale on Wed Dec 06, 2000 at 09:59:27 AM EST

The comments on my article have been pretty interesting, but I'd like to see more that analyze the social reasons behind repression thus far the comments either.

1)Agree with me... Interesting, but this doesn't get to the root of the problem

2)Disagree... Some people seem to have had absolutely great high school experiences and don't have a problem.

3)Attempt to discredit me personally... Sorry, I am not a "punk", I was not trying to "hack" the school, I had no malicious intent. One poster in particular attempted to infer from this article that I am some sort of freelancing rebel that has never done anything for my school. Sorry, I participate on the school debate team (2nd in the state), forensics (fifth in the state), have designed a web page for the school, etc. etc. It really doesn't matter, but please, quit trying to call my Jon Katz or telling me to "grow up". Problems aren't solved by forgetting about them, and obviously from the poll results it seems that geek persecution in High Schools is a very legitimate problem that needs to be addressed.

4)Look at the social reasons behind the problem, analyze the educational system. This is what I'd like to see more of. Comments that try to analyze the social underpinnings of the very clear fear of computer literate students by high school staff. Why exactly is there this fear? Is it a form of neophobia, a fear of people who "know too much"? What is the cause?

Keep 'em coming!


"The hunger for liberty may he suppressed for a time; yet never exterminated. Man's natural instinct is for freedom, and no power on earth can succeed in crushing it for very long."
-Alexander Berkman
I think the point (3.50 / 2) (#122)
by DemiGodez on Wed Dec 06, 2000 at 02:09:46 PM EST

Problems aren't solved by forgetting about them, and obviously from the poll results it seems that geek persecution in High Schools is a very legitimate problem that needs to be addressed.

I think the point people are trying to make, is that there is very little that can be done about what you term as geek persecution. I'll take it a step further and say that I think nothing *should* be done. Here's why:

If you found a way to change high school, it would be through artifical means. You wouldn't really change the mindset of anyone, you'd just pass rules dictating behavior. Perhaps that's pessimistic, but I believe it is accurate. Given this, changing high school would only serve to isolate you from the realities of real life.

What's cool about these experiences, which unfortunatly is evident till you are well past high school, is the amount of character they build. The smiley happy captain of the football team who always gets a pat on the back, isn't prepared for real life. You are. You know how to handle conflict from superiors, you know how to handle being shut down, and you know how to deal with frustration. That's awesome.

[ Parent ]

Great, just what Kuro5hin needs... (2.41 / 12) (#97)
by balls001 on Wed Dec 06, 2000 at 10:47:11 AM EST

...an aspiring JonKatz! Please, spare us the misguided attempts at bringing to light the world's social problems by sequestering them into categories and throwing around stereotypes.

I stopped reading /. partially because JonKatz is one of the most annoying writers I have ever encountered. His incessant articles on Columbine, 'Freaks and Geeks' and other 'social underdogs' make me ill.

LOL (2.00 / 1) (#109)
by RedHatdude on Wed Dec 06, 2000 at 12:32:07 PM EST

That's what I thought of when I read the article :)

But I don't have a problem with it because I didn't read too much of Katz's work. Plus. you don't have to read it if you don't want to.

[ Parent ]
LOL (2.00 / 1) (#110)
by RedHatdude on Wed Dec 06, 2000 at 12:32:27 PM EST

That's what I thought of when I read the article :)

But I don't have a problem with it because I didn't read too much of Katz's work. Plus. you don't have to read it if you don't want to.

[ Parent ]
So don't read it. (none / 0) (#130)
by Carcosa on Wed Dec 06, 2000 at 04:08:49 PM EST

I don't see anyone twisting your arm.

[ Parent ]
Carcosa (none / 0) (#155)
by PenguinWrangler on Thu Dec 07, 2000 at 06:48:44 AM EST

Off topic completely, but nice to see someone who's read their Chambers (or Bierce)...
"Information wants to be paid"
[ Parent ]
A little story (4.11 / 9) (#98)
by rograndom on Wed Dec 06, 2000 at 10:53:05 AM EST

I was recently at a high school trying troubleshoot their web server (hosted on-site), and I brought my laptop with me and plugged into an ethernet port in the library (outside of the server room) testing out the site, etc. Anyways from behind me I hear "Young man, what are you doing? You are not allowed to do that!" I figured that some kid was goofing off or something, and I was hard at work, so I was tuning pretty much everything out anyways. Then I hear "Young man! Backpacks are not allowed on school property. I will have to take that." and a hand reaches next to me and grabs my laptop case. The hand belonged to the school librarian. Who thought I was a student (I'm 24, and I was quite flattered), but that didn't dawn on me for a couple of minutes. I told her that I could not let her take my backpack. She said that I would have put it in my locker then. I said that I did not have a locker. Then she said that she would have take my laptop (!). I refused. She was quite angry and went to get the pricipal, and I finished what I was doing, packed up and went back to the server room. It was after I was back in the server room that I was able to clear my head of work and figure out what just happened. It still makes me chuckle. Here I am, *not* a student, but actually being paid to help the school and the staff is still threatened by me, and tries to take a major power trip on me.

Not a "geek" problem (3.40 / 5) (#99)
by QuantumAbyss on Wed Dec 06, 2000 at 11:18:30 AM EST

I understand how some people might have had worse ones. I happened to be liked by the staff at my school, so they didn't bother me (small school, everyone knew everyone else). But, at the same time, I saw other's constantly pestered by staff.

But I don't think it is a "geek" problem. Look, teachers are sometimes on power trips (as can be seen from some stories posted already), that is what the problem is. Sometimes they have are forced by administration to act in the way they do (or at least think they do). I know a lot of teachers, and I know that a number of them struggle with this all the time. One teacher in my high school acted as a safe haven for kids who were thus persecuted by getting to school early and opening up his room for them to hang out in, out of the way of teachers who were just having a bad day and taking it out on the students.

There is a common theme to public schools: teachers OWN it, kids are NOTHING. There are also initiatives to change this (look something up about "Open Education" my little brother and sister are in such a school, and there is certainly a different relationship between them and their teachers, at the same time it is public and administration isn't doing anything to help the system along).

I'll give you a funny example that shows how much teachers feel they need to keep the upper hand. One of my mothers friends teaches 6th grade. One day she had really bad gas and farted in class a couple of times, people noticed. So she blamed it on the students. Stupid little thing, I know. But she didn't do it to be funny, she did it to keep face. Teachers setup a system where they have to be in control because they're getting kids to do things they don't want to do. That isn't cool, and it isn't helped by all this stuff that either one of our (U.S.) possible presidents is saying about education: more control, more testing, more accountability! Those things just make teachers exert more and more pressure on students (notice, normal teachers would refer to them as "their" students - it is an assumption that the kids are not autonimous, but possessed), and administrators more pressure on teachers. The system just breads itself in a similar way to police abuse.

Science is not the pursuit of truth, it is the quest for better approximations to a perception of reality.
- QA
Okay... (mini-rant) (3.88 / 9) (#101)
by MrSmithers on Wed Dec 06, 2000 at 11:37:49 AM EST

Well, I have to say I unfortunately had some bad experiences in this area back when I was in HS... Skip to the last two paragraphs if you want just the conclustions.

First, a little background. We had a computer in every classroom. They were all 95 boxes with a cheesy security program called "Fortres" (yes, spelled like that). It was a piece of cake to bypass, and a few other students even carried around floppies that would boot the machine fully open. A few others were able to crack the password for it. The only times I actually bypassed it my Junior year were to play games during the useless study hall period (our teacher okayed it) and also to help my History teacher install a Theodore Roosevelt screen saver that the system wouldn't let her use... At the end of the year I reviewed the system to make sure that everything was cleaned up and exactly like it was when we started.

In our tech lab (drafting class actually), we ran NT, thank God. Those systems were "secured" by system policies in the registry that basically told Explorer not to let you right-click anything, go to Start/Run, etc... Of course that took about 5 seconds to get around by using AutoCAD's function to load new features loacted in external programs. So I just told it to load "cmd.exe" and got a nice command prompt (the purpose was to run 3D Studio Max, which the R&D class used). Of course, the teacher in there didn't appreciate it too much, probably because their only "security" was the fact that the shell was useless; the hadn't bothered to properly secure the system with file permissions. Once I explained what I was doing, he was pretty cool about it since he knew I was doing 3D modeling in AutoCAD (way beyond the scope of the class but I found it interesting). The only other time I got in trouble in that class was for running the system policy editor to temporarily disable the restrctions so I could change the screen resolution. Let me just say that doing drafting work at 800x600 is NOT fun.

Anyway, I thought things were okay becuase everyone involved knew what I was doing (except my stupid "Computer Applicaitons" class where I did silly Powerpoint presentations because I finished everything early), but apparently by then rumors were flying around the teacher's lounge. I soon found that various administrators who had never even met me were having me excluded from various activities.

By senior year, I didn't really care anymore. I took a C++ class as a blowoff course and frequently pointed out just how idiotic the guy who wrote the book was. If anyone has ever read the AP Computer Science book by Leon Schram, you know what I'm talking about. Anyway, our teacher (who knew NOTHING about programming and was learning along with the class) took away WinPopup so we couldn't message each other anymore. I couldn't let that happen :), so I wrote a little replacement (in C++ of course); a peer-to-peer ICQ work-alike called IFU, guess what it stands for :) That didn't go over to well, but I argued that it was on-topic to the class. And after all the trouble of writing it since we were using an ancient version of Borland C++ for Windows so I had to use the 16-bit Windows API (what a pain in the ass) over a NetBEUI network.

Anyway, I digress... It has been brought up by a previous poster but deserves re-stating: people by nature fear what they do not understand. Also, public education these days is not about education; it's about control. I'll admit, there were a few teachers who I greaty admire that I thought really cared about us, but they were unfortunately outnumbered and outranked by those more interested in politics -- virtually all of the administration.

The reason "geeks" are so often percieved in a negative light by school officials, or anyone in a position of power for that matter, is just an extension of this. The geeks have an ability and a natural understanding of something that is beyond the comprehension and the control of those who are supposed to have authority over them. After all, sufficiently advanced technology will appear to be magic to those who do not understand it, and I think to many people these days computers ARE almost magical. Throughout history, users of so-called "magic" (read technology) have been persecuted. It's unfortunate, but it's true.

How this happened (3.00 / 5) (#103)
by pianoman113 on Wed Dec 06, 2000 at 11:53:51 AM EST

There are many potential causes to this situation. One reason is the treatment of athletics in schools. Atheletes are reveared above all else in many high schools, particularly football players. In fact, I have some friends who went to high schools in which members of the football team were not only permitted to get away with anything, but often were encouraged to physically abuse the undesireables (ie. geeks). To those of you that don't believe it, wake up fools. Just because it doesn't happen to you does not make it go away everywhere.

Another contriubter comes from the attitudes of society in general to those that are knowledgable about computers. People fear them, they don't trust them, and they want them eliminated. "You who know the computer are also you who are physically weak (sterotypically), and we who are strong should dominate you." That attitude allows those who know about sports and other "normal" interests to condescend when someone is ignorant, but they themselves should not be condescended to when they can't use a keyboard or mouse to save their lives. The fear comes from the demonization of hackers. Every hear anything positive about Kevin Mitnick from the mainstream media? I didn't think so. Those in power want to stay in power and the internet threatens that power. Governments and media know that if they allow "kids" to get out there with their computers, they will begin to lose control. Thus geeks are demonized.


I know this is probably somewhat hard to follow, but the point is this: the problem comes from the top and its not going to go away, in fact it is most likely going to get much worse before it (maybe) gets better.
A recent survey of universities nation-wide yeilded astounding results: when asked which was worse, ignorance or apathy, 36% responeded "I don't know," and 24% responeded "I don't care." The remaining 40% just wanted the free pen.
Geeks shoot back (2.00 / 1) (#113)
by weirdling on Wed Dec 06, 2000 at 12:43:35 PM EST

That's what I wanted the headline to read after Columbine. Now, I'm 6'3" 270 pounds, but in high school, I was scrawny. It doesn't surprise me at all that these two kids blew away their tormentors...

I'm not doing this again; last time no one believed it.
[ Parent ]
PARENTS!!!! (4.57 / 14) (#104)
by FlightTest on Wed Dec 06, 2000 at 11:54:17 AM EST

IMHO, the telling line is;

Luckily, the consequences of my actions were muted when my father was quick to point out that I never violated any of the rules in our fair use policy. Indeed, I was helping students communicate, learning some neat programming tricks, and simply using an interface offered to us that I preferred.

His father got involved. On his side. Probably a bit more strongly than he lets on here. Many school teachers/admins don't know how to handle that, they prefer parents who believe that the schools really do know what's best for the students. They want parents who meekly submit to the school as the authority on raising children. The sad fact is, there are people in the school system who are there because they want to be in control of others, and they think children are easier to control because of their limited rights. These people tend to rise quickly into administration. Gross generalization, I know, please don't take it as an attack on ALL school admins, some are truely clueful. I'm not saying parents should blindly stick up for thier kids, but they should learn the facts about any incident, and determine if the school acted reasonably. If they believe the school didn't act fairly, they should not hesitate to get involved. The admins who are on a control trip will generaly buckle to parents show they are involved in their child's uprbringing and make it clear they will not put up with BS from the school. The clueful ones will generaly not create these hassles in the first place.

So where am I going with this? The poster asked what was the cause. The primary cause (IMNSHO) is sadly, many parents do not take an active role in raising their children. It's tough because we're dealing with ever-changing technology. It's very difficult for parents with full-time jobs, mortgage, etc. to keep up, so they can understand what thier kid did, and decide if the school acted fairly. But that is what parents MUST do. It's easier when kids get in trouble for a non-tech related reason. Parents can easily understand what's going on, and make a good determination.

Parenting is the most important job you'll ever do. You only get one shot at it, don't screw it up. If you can't be bothered to take an active role in your child's education, DON'T HAVE THEM! I know that doesn't help the kids who have uninvolved parents, but I really believe the solution has to come from the top. Students (we're talking minors, as defined in the U.S.) will NEVER be able to force the schools to change. Parents can be very influential if they take the time.

Secondary causes are school admins' fear of students smarter than they are (hard to control someone smarter than you), AND knowlegable students showing off. Sending the message to the school admin was showing off, plain and simple. "Look at me! Look at what I can do!" When you act like an arrogant a$$h*le, expect to be treated as one.

Why did I flip? I got tired of coming up with last minute desparate solutions to impossible problems created by other fucking people.
Parents again (3.50 / 2) (#112)
by weirdling on Wed Dec 06, 2000 at 12:41:14 PM EST

I was relatively lucky to have been raised by a computer-literate father, which is rare in my generation. Anyway, most other computer geeks I know weren't so lucky, and it is often the case that the parents are threatened by their kid's knowledge and mental prowess, and it is certainly often the case that the parent has no idea what to do with this kid...

I'm not doing this again; last time no one believed it.
[ Parent ]
respect (4.00 / 2) (#125)
by ooch on Wed Dec 06, 2000 at 02:56:57 PM EST

I'm not saying parents should blindly stick up for thier kids, but they should learn the facts about any incident, and determine if the school acted reasonably.
I actually went to a school where the student was put first. When there was a dispute between an student and a teacher, the teacher had to defend itself, and not the student. Counter to what you would perhaps expect(gross abuse), it worked great. Students knew they were taken serious, and did not feel like abusing the system. If you respect your students, it will work both ways.

Unfortunateley, I now attend a school which states the teachers first, and then the students. And there is much more malpractice and abuse in all sorts of areas.

My point is that when you treat people who us computers with respect it will be mutual. All the stupid rules we have for the use of computers only work counter-productive.

[ Parent ]

Lack of technical ability. (3.66 / 6) (#105)
by ucblockhead on Wed Dec 06, 2000 at 12:06:24 PM EST

Nearly all of this is caused by the simple fact that schools do not pay enough to attract people with technical ability. This means that any high school kid with technical aptitude will almost always know far more than his teachers. That was the case in 1983, when I was in high school, and that is the case now.

This causes difficulties for teachers in that they are normally more advanced than their students, and are trained for that sort of situation. To run into a student with more knowledge then they have puts them out of their depth. It isn't easy for them to handle. Now add to this that parents, administrators and others are very good at playing the blame game. If an actual hax0r d00d breaks into NASA from a school computer, guess who is going to get handed their head on a platter? Probably whatever poor schmuck had the misfortune of putting the kid on a computer. So you've got a bunch of people worried about preventing something that they quite simply have neither the ability or knowledge to prevent. So they do what all human beings do in these situations. They overreact to whatever they don't understand.

That's not going to change. Trying to change it is just banging your head against the wall. Instead, try to understand their position. Explain what you are doing <i>before</I> you do it. Keep 'em in the loop. It is good practice for manipula^h^h^h^h^h^h^h^hdealing with managers in the "real world". And if they have a problem with what you are doing, then back off and don't do it. Even if it is perfectly reasonable, just don't do it. High school is only four years. There's not a damn thing you have to do there. If something is broken, but those in charge freak out whenever you touch it, leave it broken. That feeling of moral indignance that you feel when some fool won't let you do something logical and rational? Well, get used to it, son. You're going to be feeling it a lot in the next twenty years...take it from this old fart.

This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
Guess what? (2.33 / 6) (#108)
by Bad Mojo on Wed Dec 06, 2000 at 12:14:28 PM EST

Society sucks. The moment something feared and seen as counter-culture becomes accepted and mainstream, something else will replace it. And they, too, will cry and whine until they get the attention they demand. The real answer is to suck it up and enjoy the persecution while you can. Eventually no one will even look at you or care who you are because you'll just be another well respected member of society. Fuck that!

-Bad Mojo
"The purpose of writing is to inflate weak ideas, obscure pure reasoning, and inhibit clarity. With a little practice, writing can be an intimidating and impenetrable fog!"
B. Watterson's Calvin - "Calvin & Hobbes"

Thorns that prick are the ones that get noticed (4.20 / 10) (#111)
by amokscience on Wed Dec 06, 2000 at 12:32:49 PM EST

When you antagonize someone you are going to get noticed, negatively. The more you decide to make yourself a prick (!) the more your situation will worsen. If someone tells you "don't do that" then only a total idiot would do it again. If you can't quickly tell what is and isn't acceptable then I fear for your coping skills.

In high school I was a straight A student, programmer, Asian (one of about 6 in 2,000), wore glasses, never played sports, and was an extreme introvert. You'd think this would be a ripest formula for me to be abused at every turn. I was looked down on for what I knew, did, and was exactly once in 3 years of high school and that was because of racism. Heck, somehow I won the Mr. Popularity award my senior year (ok, it was a joke, but I did win).

What people have the hardest time controlling are expectations. If you control a person's expectations you control that person. If all of a sudden I find that my computer is doing sometihng that I don't think it should be doing I am going to lean towards being freaked out. If you tell me ahead of time then I won't care as much. Why do you think curious hackers (crackers) get a paranoid reaction (apart from legal issues)? I found a guy rooting around on one of my servers once and I freaked out, my skin went ice cold I hit the power cycle button, etc. The same thing happens when you surprise educators and administrators who aren't the most tech savy people in the world. Hackers/Crackers call this social engineering.

My computer science teacher loved to have me and the other programmers in his class. We routinely did things that could have freaked out teachers and other students. Some people might have freaked out but because people got used to our little group doing wacko things they didn't care much. We gradually acclimated these people to show that we were capable of these things and that we were relatively responsible.

'Geeks' that get persecuted do so largely because they don't interact with others well. They are as misunderstood as the people that *they* misunderstand. The whole "people don't get geek things" is as valid as geeks discounting an administrator's point of view. The genius kid that writes a program that temporarily shuts down the network so he can test his neat little communication program feels like he's just accomplished something great. His program works and it's fulfilling. Then when Mr. Doesn't Understand Me steps in and starts to get all power trippy he gets all defensive (a totally natural reaction on both parts) and out comes some sort of story about geek persecution. A completely avoidable situtation, but one that the geek and probably the administrator lack the insight, wisdom, and maturity to resolve properly. They teach classes on stuff like this for grown ups at work: conflict management.

Anyways, the idea isn't to conform to the system. It's to *work the system*. If geeks are so smart and superior (as we like to think) then you should be able to manipulate people. Whenver I did stuff that was 'questionable' someone in authority had knowledge of what I was doing, and thus I had tacit approval. (Oh and I did several things that while relatively 'harmless' I certainly wouldn't want done by someone I didn't trust). I didn't choose to have a showdown with a disgruntled teacher, administrator, or counselor. Eventually, I and other 'geeks' gained a special status and lived practically outside the system. The same system where the whole school would skip 2 hours of classes every Friday for football prep rallies.

Good point (3.33 / 3) (#117)
by sugarman on Wed Dec 06, 2000 at 01:02:33 PM EST

Nice post. You managed to cogently and succinctly state what was on my mind. The last paragraph is key.

But don't view it as working the system. View it as *hacking* the system, just one more process that needs to be solved. It is so important, and needs to be be addressed. The social realm cannot be ignored, and the 'lone coder' is such a myth that rarely occurs in the rare world, that the skills will need to be developed.

Ignoring them, or worse yet, resigning yourself to them as a force of repression that is outside your control, will only cause trouble in the end.

[ Parent ]

Now that's cool! (none / 0) (#132)
by SexyAlexie on Wed Dec 06, 2000 at 05:12:38 PM EST

We tried working against the system.
We tried working within the system.
*Now* it's time to hack the sysetem!

[ Parent ]
Yeah, but you don't kill a kid for pricking you (4.25 / 4) (#118)
by QuantumAbyss on Wed Dec 06, 2000 at 01:17:46 PM EST

I agree with what you said. As I mentioned in an earlier post my highschool experience was similar (my only bad stuff came from my being jewish in a part of the country that has maybe 2, funny as it is I ended up becoming friends with those people more often than not because of how I handled it). But I think you are viewing the argument a little to favorably for the "system". Maybe that is because you are trying to counter the "I'm persecuted!" centered arguments appearing here, but still...

Here is my take. Teachers, like the rest of us, have a hard time being one-upped. But part of what they are supposed to be doing is getting one-upped. A good teacher is excited when a kid does something that exceeds their own personal knowledge. They go out of their way to give this person more resources to play with. In my mind, a sign of a good school is children constantly coming up with things that stump teachers (yes, it could just be unknowledgable teachers, but that is generally alright as long as teachers bring in resources to help students learn how to learn). The problem with our school system is that we don't help children learn how to learn, we help them learn how to fit into the system. That type of setup easily creates people who can't deal with diversity. Also, even if the behavior is possibly harmful, a school network is a place to PLAY! It is part of the school, it is a place for learning, not a corporate network where things need to be secure. If a school is really concerned about hackers then they should setup a group of computers that are allowed to be in a more open state. That is the responsibility of the school, not the kids. Of the two the administrator/teacher is supposed to have the ability to figure this out - and it IS a sign of a bad teacher if they don't figure out ways to help the creative, if socially inept, individuals.

Finally, I'll just agree with you on another front. If you are having constant problems from people around you then you need to step back and wonder - "What am I doing to cause some of this?" Not to say it is all your fault, but you should understand that probably there is something you could be doing to help the situation.

Science is not the pursuit of truth, it is the quest for better approximations to a perception of reality.
- QA
[ Parent ]
Lack of knowledge (4.25 / 12) (#114)
by clarioke on Wed Dec 06, 2000 at 12:43:44 PM EST

On behalf of the faculty. Technology is something that our generation is inherently better at than our parents'. Some are worse off than others; I actually had to set up AOL in my house. ::sighs:: But my point here is not to talk about my computer-phobic family. My point is high school faculty.

The kids know more than the teacher, as a general rule. This is a bad way to start, because the rule in school says, "Teacher is right, students are wrong." End of story. If the teacher can't argue with the student because it is so blatent that the student is more knowledgeable, the teacher loses. Not only does the teacher lose face, but the teacher loses respect. We all know it will take more than the rest of the schoolyear to gain that back.

This doesn't only happen in technology-based classes, it can happen anywhere. Most predominantly in high school in regards to computers, but in my school, it was music. There were kids I went to school with, who grew up with musical families, who knew far more than our english-major-in-college music director. He would rather be directing plays than dealing with fifty kids armed with instruments.

He lost my respect when he floundered over a relevant musical question posed during a rehearsal. He never came out and said, "I don't know." (In my opinion, the noble way to deal with the situation. Honesty. What a novel idea.) Instead, he talked out of his ass for a few minutes before a more knowledgeable student gave a consise, clear answer. The director never thanked the student for sharing his knowledge. In fact, the student was blamed for being a know-it-all and was told to, please, raise your hand before speaking.

Incompetent staff is a problem. Perhaps not incompetent, per se, but not as knowledgeable as we'd prefer.

In the computers-in-high-school vein, kids who take advantage of the school computer system put kids who are legitimately putting their knowledge to good use in jeopardy. Thanks to the freshman in my high school who sent a virus through all the computers in our brand-spankin'-new computer lab, kids (last I checked) are only allowed to use the computers under strict supervision.

Thanks to A.J. and his computer knowledge, when I was a Junior, I was reprimanded for printing a paper in the seven minutes before it was due, because I was unsupervised. Sixteen years old and I needed to be supervised to print an english paper.

Anyway, just my thoughts on the subject. Get ourselves more competent and knowledgeable staff, or at least people who can say "I don't know." If teachers could say "I don't know" to kids, I don't think anyone would really look down on them. At least, as long as it didn't happen on a daily basis. Save some respect.

I'm done. That's my $.02. Also Canadian. Low self-esteem and no creativity; I take the line from elsewhere, thanks to the person who originally said it.

enough procrastination, I'm outta here.....

And What Do You Do? (2.00 / 5) (#119)
by eskimo on Wed Dec 06, 2000 at 01:49:56 PM EST

Or what do you plan to do?

It sure is easy to discount your teachers or make them look like jackasses, but it sure is hard to be a teacher.

I am my own home. - Banana Yoshimoto
[ Parent ]

I give teachers a lot of credit (3.00 / 1) (#128)
by clarioke on Wed Dec 06, 2000 at 03:44:05 PM EST

I could never be a teacher; my mother is a teacher. How difficult is it to be honest, say you don't know something and keep the respect of your students?

[ Parent ]
Teachers who deserve respect get respect (4.00 / 3) (#140)
by shadarr on Wed Dec 06, 2000 at 07:49:30 PM EST

You can divide teachers into two groups. There are those who don't know but won't admit they don't know, and there are those who are willing to say "I don't know, but here are some ideas on how you can find out". (A subset of the first set is the teacher who says "I'll get back to you" and doesn't) I've had both types of. I got into computers by doing web design in a largely old-media college program. Before that I did physics at university. Our video instructor felt it was important that we know the workings of a CRT. Unfortunatly he didn't understand it himself, but when I questioned him he would talk around the question or flat-out lie (electrons are attracted to magnets... uh huh). He refused to admit he was wrong or didn't know. I lost respect for him and stopped asking questions because really, what good would it do?

At the same time I was a in a publishing class. The teacher there knew a lot of things, but he didn't know the first thing about HTML let alone JavaScript. And he came right out and said "I can't help you with the technical side, here are some people who might be able to answer your questions. But I can help you with the graphic design of your web site." We had a great relationship, and in fact he was the best liked of all the teachers. I'm not saying I would have gone into televisioin if the teachers had been reversed, but I may not have learned anything about web design and any of the things leading up to real coding if I had had to deal with a teacher who would spout BS about anything he didn't know.

So in answer to the question "what do you do?" You hire teachers who are willing to admit they don't know. You fire teachers who feel that if their students know anything that they don't it will somehow inhibit thier ability to teach.

[ Parent ]

What I meant... (2.00 / 1) (#145)
by eskimo on Wed Dec 06, 2000 at 08:41:46 PM EST

What I meant was what do YOU do? You are not in charge of hiring teachers. And honestly, I think that in general, the people in charge of hiring teachers probably think they are doing a good job.

'What do YOU do,' refers directly to the problems I have discussed in this thread and another. clarioke admitted that he respected teachers and that he could not do it. Why he thinks that is the real question. You are not answering the question. Sure, we need more knowledgable teachers. Easy to say, but hard to practice. Apparently you have some knowledge. How do you share it?

At the very heart of 'geek' persecution, there is apparently what some percieve as a divide, separating those who know things from those who do not. Until people like us actually step to the plate and figure out a way to bridge the divide, all we will do is complain.

Furthermore, acting like we are so damn cool on this side of the divide, and discounting what the other side has to offer is just stupid. If you find it disconcerting that people refuse to admit when they are wrong, wait until you get to the real world. Nobody is wrong here. It's like that scene in The Shawshank Redemption, where everybody is innocent.

I am my own home. - Banana Yoshimoto
[ Parent ]

What to do... (2.00 / 2) (#146)
by clarioke on Wed Dec 06, 2000 at 09:25:46 PM EST

What do I do? About high school teachers that won't admit they're wrong? About egotistical directors that won't allow their students the privilege of being right?

What do you do about a boss you don't like? Change jobs or deal with it, you can't always pick your boss.

What to do about scared high school staff, terrified of kids who know more about technology and computers than they do.

Ignore the problems? There is a problem with respect in the classroom. This isn't a problem I can solve. I can choose the classes I take, thereby choosing the professors I have. I take classes with professors I like, professors I respect and, ultimately, who respect me.

As for everybody being right in the "real world"... admitting you're wrong is as valuable as saying yo'ure right.... and living with an open mind and being open to others, as well as open to teaching others and sharing knowledge with others are keys to living harmoniously with others.

More than this I cannot say.

[ Parent ]

Question (2.00 / 1) (#149)
by eskimo on Wed Dec 06, 2000 at 11:12:22 PM EST

Ask yourself why you think they are 'terrified' of you? The answer is that you really just wish they were.

How do you expect them to respect somebody so arrogant?

Respect is overrated anyway. I respected about 10 guys TOTAL when I was in the Navy, and I spent two of the years on a nuclear submarine. I don't know how many people respected me, and I don't really care. I guess even though a submarine is a pretty safe environment, the fact that you are only ever a fraction of an inch from getting water in the people tank changes things a little.

In the real world, trust is infinitely more important than respect. Respecting somebody's opinion is easy, because they can be wrong. Trusting somebody's opinion often doesn't have that same flexibility. Worry about trust. I trusted almost every guy I was with on the submarine.

I am my own home. - Banana Yoshimoto
[ Parent ]

Flame. (none / 0) (#150)
by clarioke on Wed Dec 06, 2000 at 11:45:00 PM EST

The answer is that you really just wish they were. How do you expect them to respect somebody so arrogant? Flame. In a classroom situation, respect is highly important, especially with older adolescents. They are, afterall, still kids. There is no denying that they are still not quite adults. Which is why respect is so important in the teacher/student relationship; these kids are going to push as many limits as they can. If they respect you, you'll get a lot farther than if you lack respect. The point is, high school is not the "real world" and in the classroom, you need respect.

Respect is important in the "real world" too.

[ Parent ]

Re: Lack of knowledge (none / 0) (#158)
by jfpoole on Thu Dec 07, 2000 at 11:22:18 AM EST

Incompetent staff is a problem. Perhaps not incompetent, per se, but not as knowledgeable as we'd prefer.

Part of the reason school computer technicians/teachers are as incompetent as you claim is that right now (in Ontario, at least) there's no real reason for someone who's competent with computers to go into education. A student who's fresh out of University can make roughly $30,000 a year teaching, or $60,000 out in industry. Add in the fact that you'll probably work less out in industry and you won't have an employer that actively hates you (good ol' Mike Harris) and the choice is pretty obvious.

So what happens? Only the people who couldn't make it into industry (or the very few that absolutely love teaching) end up in education. It's unfortunate, and I've no idea how to correct this, short of dumping large amounts of money into education.


[ Parent ]
Warning: American-based-views (none / 0) (#161)
by reshippie on Thu Dec 07, 2000 at 02:16:15 PM EST

...I've no idea how to correct this, short of dumping large amounts of money into education.

Sounds like a good idea, unfortunately, it's not feasible. We all know that education is underfunded though. That's because it's paid by taxes, and we want our kids to have great things, as long as they don't cost us anything.

I think that they should swap the Defense budget with the Education budget. If you had smarter, better educated people, it would be cheaper to make weapons, and stuff.

Another thought would be to look at society's values. We value money above all else, so lets look at where we spend our money...Entertainment. People spend billions of dollars on having fun. Perhaps we could siphon off lets say, a billion dollars from Hollywood, and direct that into the education system.

Those who don't know me, probably shouldn't trust me. Those who do DEFINITELY shouldn't trust me. :-)
[ Parent ]

American High Schools and geeks (4.28 / 7) (#116)
by twistedfuck on Wed Dec 06, 2000 at 12:59:49 PM EST

I never attended an american high school, but my impression is that they suck in many ways. That there are a lot of groups which are separatist and elitist. Geeks are both victims and perpatrators of this behaviour,

I don't know why people are not surprised that people such as Richard Stallman are not celebrated outside the geek community. Its not like programming is a spectator sport which everyone can participate in. Many people don't understand computers that well yet, and don't want to try overcoming the initial learning curve. Basketball on the other hand is pretty easy to follow and understand, and its easy to see who is skilled and who is not.

Its not surprising that school officials are extremely worried about the correct use of school computers and networks. School computers and networks are rarely very secure because its just not possible to get highly skilled people to configure and maintain them properly. When studying in a technical college a friend of mine was able to get access to one of the college's administrative computers and found salary data on all the college's lecturers. That was at a technical college with fairly skilled sys admins.

Bottom line, geek skills will mostly only be appreciated by other geeks. Society in general will be paranoid about a geeks ability to use and abuse computers and networks for mischief and crime. Its understandable because many geeks often don't try to help non-geeks understand technology.

Re: American High Schools and geeks (none / 0) (#176)
by Ubiq on Sat Dec 09, 2000 at 05:31:47 PM EST

I guess that is the main cause. If the school would be able to hire clued CS and admin personnel (for which they don't have the budget) there would be no problem.

Basically, it's all the computer security they have.

[ Parent ]
as a high school survivor (2.75 / 4) (#120)
by hepatitis_bee on Wed Dec 06, 2000 at 01:57:01 PM EST

I was a high school geek, now i'm a collge geek, i only had a few friends and only shared the common interest of computers. We weren't made fun of, but often ignored and overlooked by teachers, principals, secretaries, and students. My senior year I was kicked out of CS II because I ran a program that sends messages between users, it's one of the programs that comes with Novell Netware, apparently I must have broken some kind of rule, but they were furious and stripped me of my rights to use the computers in school, and my privelidge to take the class. It later came out that I was being prevented from taking another computer related class before this even happened. It isn't that high school geeks are "despised for their skill" it's that they don't understand what separates us from them and people fear what they don't understand. I eventually learned that what happened to me was no big deal, it just meant that i got to get out of school earlier and make more money at work, high school is a place you are forced to be for four years, nothing more nothing less. What ever goes on in high school is just a drop in the bucket and nothing to worry about. What I learned from my experiences in high school is that people just don't care, they don't care what you know, what you can do, or how you did it. Your just there to be babysitted and they will treat you like a baby if you allow them. Once you come to that conclusion you decide that their attention is something that really isn't desireable and go back to do whatever it is you enjoy doing regardless of what people think.

Communication is the key... (4.16 / 6) (#124)
by Elpenor on Wed Dec 06, 2000 at 02:13:24 PM EST

I believe that at the root of the problem is communication. The schools are just tring to protect themselves and allow themselves to give you and every other student as good an education that they can. Often times schools are at the mercy of parents and school boards that get all of their information from the general media. If just one unenlightened parent is scared that their child will see pr0n on the net and complains then more will come out of the woodwork and filters will be put on the computers.

The best way to teach any one person is very different from the best way to teach any other person, and in most/all schools they don't have the luxery of customizing the rules and curriculum for each individual student so they have to use the least common denominator to make rules for the entire student body. And once the rules are made they have to follow them or else open themselves up to lawsuits and other evils of our society.

The thing is, if you communicate the intent of what you are doing BEFORE you do it then they will have a chance to make an educated decision about letting you do what you want and are more likely to let you do it and grant you future privileges later then if you just do it without their knowledge. I believe that in almost all situations it is possible to get everything you want/need for ligitimate uses (no they are not going to happily let you look at pr0n no matter how nicely you ask) if you explain what you are going to do and allow people to make educated decisions. They are much more likely to make rash decisions about what you are doing if you go around their authority, especaily with things they do not understand. There may be times when going around authority is necessary to make a point about something but these times are very few and very far between, especially in schools. In my experience if you explain your situation to someone and educate them you will much more then likely find a teacher or someone to help you change the rules or change the system then not.

This approach will also go a long way to helping the situation as a whole because the more you communicate with people the more they will begin to understand you and you do not fear what you understand. In an ideal world teachers and faculty would go out of their way to understand each and every one of their students and I believe that they really do try, but they are out numbered by students and their responsibilities and also it is not as if we "Geeks" (I hate stereotypes you should read my rant about them here) go out of our way to to be open and communicative either. So it is up to us as individuals to open the lines of communications not only to help ourselves but to help out the next missunderstood "Geek" down the line.

Communication is the key.

"Duff Beer - You know you want it..."

Look... (3.66 / 9) (#126)
by Zeram on Wed Dec 06, 2000 at 03:01:41 PM EST

When I was in highschool I played Football (the coach came to me personally and all but begged me to play for him) plus I was in the computer club and I took PASCAL as an elective. So I have a pretty unique perspective on this.

I was persecuted in highschool, plain and simple. Why? Because I was the tallest kid in school, I was quiet, shy, and a total pacifist (I did not fight back no matter what anyone did to me, and before anyone jumps down my throat about being a pacifist and playing football, it's a sport, a contest, it is not unmitigated violence!). So in terms of highschool psycology I more than had it coming. Even when playing football I was still a target. But I had friends and comrades in arms. I was part of the marginal group of students ostenbly known as geeks. Band geeks, drama geeks, computer geeks, and others who just did not fit in at all. We had a common bond because we were all persecuted, we all wore trench coats, we all read the anrchists cookbook, we all knew what the church of the subgenius was, we all frequented BBS, we were all K-rad c00l warez d00ds, and so on.

When I played football I felt like I was part of something. Not neccessarily that I was "in" (I wasn't), but I felt part of a team. Granted that was confined to practice and to games, but still I had my friends who made me feel part of a social group. In the end I was even voted most changed, simply because I opened up over the four years I spent there. Basicly I was never "accepted" but I was tollerated.

Even though I was tollerated, I still got told over and over again, that I was wasting myself, on both sides (my friends and teammates). But I could deal with the critisism because I never exacerbated the situation by flaunting what I knew or what I could do. When football season was over, I was either in drama club, or playing tournement Starcontrol in compter club (well and trolling rec.arts.anime the only news group of the five we got that was even remotely interesting). Basicly I knew what my schools administration would and wouldn't allow and I didn't waste my time doning things that I knew would generate negative attention in my direction. I did things that I thought were fun that I could either get in under the radar, or that no one would care about. For example my best friend and I managed to figure out the dial in number for the *nix server where our grades were stored. We tried to hack it, but were unsuccesful. We used and old commorde and a war dialer over a phone line that had neither of our names on it, but we could never seem to crack their password.

If you netsend a message to your principal then you have to expect to get slammed for that. Netsend a message to a friend in the same class, and just be smart about it. Not to say that the schools rules are ok, but you have to work with what you have, and schools virtually never pay much more than lip service to their students, and you really need to get used to it.
Like Anime? In the Philly metro area? Welcome to the machine...
Fear and naiveté (3.66 / 6) (#129)
by communista on Wed Dec 06, 2000 at 04:05:28 PM EST

Society as a whole is afraid. They are afraid that what they might learn to be an acceptable practice will go against their morals and standards. We can thank the media for a lot of this. Never do you hear about a hacker doing society justice on CNN. The idolized professions are still the doctors and lawyers, not the ones who wrote the software thtat they use.

The Homecoming queens are the ones in the spotlight, never mind that a rhinestone crown probably won't pay the rent when it matters.

Maybe it's an envy for what they don't know, and would like to. Anyone who has parents or grandparents that are not computer literate knows this. I personally am the on-call geek in my family. I've spent half my weekend sometimes fixing a family member's computer because they downloaded a virus, or something trivial like that. Mind you most of the time spent is used for educating them, telling them "This is how you send a message, see? *click*" which is instantly met with "Ooohs" and "Aahs". Clearly you're not going to sit with Principal Bob and show him what you can do in a DOS prompt.

We lived in a very technical age, and when many of those teachers and principals were in school, the closest college course they had to anything with a computer was Word Processing 101, and most computers were too "intimidating" to go near. These are the people running Windows 3.1 that have nervous breakdowns weekly because something goes wrong and nobody supports their OS. These are the men and women that slam their fists on their computer desks at home when they download their first virus, saying "No good can come of this!".

I see it in the same light as many other controversies in our world. For example, Paganism. Communism. Linux. <= maybe the last one's a stretch but the ISP I work for won't support Linux because (And I quote from the Employee Handbook) "Linux is an operating system frequently used by hackers that promotes activities that are strictly prohibited by the ********* Terms of Service." Yay.

The question I pose is how does such a thing get turned around? Do we kill all the news anchors and brainwash all the teachers/professors in the world?? Probably not. Just like any new and unusual idea, I suppose it just has to evolve...
/me fucks shit up!!!!
My home town (2.66 / 3) (#133)
by dzimmerm on Wed Dec 06, 2000 at 05:27:49 PM EST

Gee, I was born in Midland Michigan and even went to central high for a year. I then got to go to a small school about 20 miles away that had a graduating class of only 94. I might add that I graduated H.S. in 1974 so I am probably older than most posters.

I am curious if Midland is still ruled by Dow Chemical Co. If it is then it is likely that Dow sponsers programs for talented students.

As far as why do adults tend to fear homo superior? Gee, fear of extermination perhaps? You also could have caught the administrator on a bad day. As an older adult I will tell you that some days your joints hurt, your head hurts, and your wife/S.O. was not in the mood. Given a day like that and someone sending me a message and I might be mildly offended. Take the same scenario and have a flag waving, bible thumping normal and he/she will split a gut with someone to blame all their troubles on. As you get older life throws bombs at you and some have not learned to catch those things and defuse them.

OH, I should have said 80m8 so the net censors do not come knocking on my door, oh well.

I am not sure if I have given you any insight into the paranoa that you find yourself dealing with. Wearing black seems to work for priests so I guess it could not be the way you dress,(tongue in cheek).

Could your voice be offending people? I found out when I listened to myself on a tape recorder that my voice sounds naturally sarcastic. I have to work at it to give myself a non-sarcastic tone. Have you listened to yourself speak? Sarcasm, even unintentional, raises everyones hackles. To myself I have a deeper, more mellow tone than what actually comes out of my mouth. I have to talk even deeper to get the correct effect out. Once someone gets to know me they realize that the way I speak is normal for me and they negate it. In a large school you could offend someone without knowing it and they might never get a chance to know you well enough to realize you are not trying to offend.

I wish you luck and feel free to send me email if you so desire.



Granted.... (5.00 / 1) (#137)
by communista on Wed Dec 06, 2000 at 06:56:34 PM EST

But seriously. I doubt that the majority of the geeks in High School right now catch their Principal on a bad day.

"I am not sure if I have given you any insight into the paranoa that you find yourself dealing with"

Paranoia? This discrimination is very real, my friend. The geeks in a school may not be the A students, thus not necessarily getting noticed academically. Their knowledge goes further and usually has nothing to do with what the schools deem to be something worthy of recognition.
/me fucks shit up!!!!
[ Parent ]
Teachers (2.33 / 3) (#135)
by CyberQuog on Wed Dec 06, 2000 at 05:34:41 PM EST

You said it yourself, it's 99% teachers that are the problem. Most teachers can't stand to be shown that they're wrong, or even that you know something that they don't. When you do something like send your admin a hello message, no offense, but your basically showing off. Showing him that you could do something he couldn't. To him it probably didnt matter that you didn't do anything wrong, you showed that you could do something he couldn't. This doesn't make it right for him to punish you, but there are ways to stay under the radar of most teachers.

On the other hand, once in awhile you'll find a great teacher who will actually teach you things and let you teach him things. Though, these teachers are rare.

Because you are nothing but factory workers. (3.14 / 7) (#136)
by Furious George on Wed Dec 06, 2000 at 05:55:54 PM EST

Geeks, especially computer programmers, are nothing special. They are no better (or worse, for that matter) than factory workers at a Ford plant in Flint, Michigan.

Geeks are small cogs in large machines. With some on certain programming projects never knowing exactly what it is that the other 50 project members are working on.

I also find slashdot.org, with its 'voices from the hellmouth' series to be extremely funny. With geeks shouting out 'get your revenges by getting a larger salary', when in fact the 'geeks' (as are Ford factory workers) are underpaid and overworked when compared to the CEO, who was probaby one of their tormentors in high school. This call for revenge also shows that these 'special people' are as small minded and pathetic as the people that torment them.

I find these facts, coupled with the intolerable arrogance of the geek breed to be horribly amusing. I myself am well versed in several programming languages, and may very well pursue a carreer in the computer field myself. However, I also hold black belts in several martial arts, am nationally ranked in table tennis, and am pursuing Math and History degrees. I find that I can hold conversations with anyone from any walk of life and find a common thread with them. This makes my life extrordinarily full in my opinion.

Geeks discount and show disdain for people that do not get 'C programmers do it with long pointers' jokes.

I find any individual that dedicates his or her life to a single pursuit to be one-diminsional and worthy of pity. It goes doubly so for these modern 'geeks' who truly think they are something special and worthy of exceptional treatment, when in fact they are less worthy of respect in my eyes, than my local mechanic.

Get over yourselves. I am proud to call myself a 'non-geek'

Furious George

We geeks are as bas as everyone else (2.60 / 5) (#138)
by kwhite on Wed Dec 06, 2000 at 07:08:28 PM EST

I'll be honest and say that I haven't read all of the comments posted to this opinion article, but what I have read so far is sad. From everything I've read I can honestly say most of us are now better then the ones we say are "persecuting" us. For example I've seen a lot that have somethis like "those jocks are now bagging groceries", as if all jocks are dumb idiots that are only in school because they can eiterh shoot, throw, tack, etc. No offence but it is highschool and in some wat I'm sure most people feel alienated. We GEEKS do no corner this market. I mean one of the articles was talking about how all we hear about is how us geeks get in trouble. Well when was the last time you heard something positive being said about an athlete. Typically if its in the news its because they have been arrested for a DUI, hitting someone, whatever (I.E. the 5 Louisville baseketball players). Does this mean all jocks are meat heads that think they are entitled to be looked upon as gods? No, but there are those select few. Just like there are those select few GEEKS that give the whole geekdom a bad name.

Now I'm not saying what the administration did was right, but I'm tired of hearing all these sites talk as if the geeks in highschool are the only ones who are being kept down by the man. All I ask is that you look around and open your eyes and realize that there are others going through some of the same things as you, but maybe not in the way you realize.

Feedback is great, so comment freely to

Fear of the unknown. (4.12 / 8) (#139)
by -ryan on Wed Dec 06, 2000 at 07:23:48 PM EST

Let's take a step back here. The administration's reactions to the actions of you and your peers can be boiled down to one thing. Fear.

Let me tell you my story.

I am 21. Just 3 short years ago I was in high school. I was (still am) a tall, pale, skinny geek. I was nice to the girls and flirted alot, had plenty of acquaintces but no real friends... no real peers. I remember crying at night because it seemed like I was the only person I could think of that didn't have a real friendship, a real relationship, or any real peers for that matter.

When I was 16 my parents bought our first PC. At that point I discovered myself. I remember spending night after night after night online. I had discovered a new world. A world filled with people like me. Filled with new information, new people, new ideas, new...things, and every night there was something new to be discovered. I truly wish I could have an experience like that one again.

With this discovery of who I was... a computer geek, came a new zeal. I was zealous about computers, programming, and the interent to a fault. What amazes me to this day is the amount of raw fear I produced in not only my teachers and the administration, but some of the students as well.

I soon became known among the teachers for being "extremely" computer literate. That didn't seem to be much of a problem. I believe that most adults are used to relying upon younger people to be able to "program the vcr". The trouble came when I began to explore.

One day when I was in the school library my computer crashed. Instinctively I hit the power button to reboot it. As it came back up, I recognized things I had seen while helping my neighbor accross the street who owned a small PC network consulting firm. This piqued my interest immensly. When the system came back up, I broke out of the card catalog and began digging through the system. Just looking around. I began messaging people at other compters in the library, people like the class clown, other "outsiders" like me. Pretty soon I had a few guys ooing and aahhhing behind me. I was giving them a course in Novell networking. Before very long the librarian noticed the group of boys (which usually means up to no good in high school) hudled around the computer. Through the reflection in the monitor I saw her walk up behind me. I panicked (though I still don't know why) and gave the machine the three finger salute. It froze. Fuck. The pale like a ghost, shaking, teacher asked me what I had done. She was shitting bricks. I told her in exquisite detail what I had done and what I was teaching the other students. She said "you don't know what you've done, this is so bad". She was truly terrified. I could not comprehend this. I and the other students were learning, we were exploring. We were not doing bad things. Excuse me, yes I did know exactly what I was doing.

I don't remember what my punishment was but subsequent interactions with technology and the administration summarily got me put in box, suspended, kicked out of the library, etc... I think I covered every punishment available short of being expelled.

At the same time as this I was taking a Comp Sci class. I really liked the teacher there. She appreciated my ingenuity. She smiled when I broke through the security she wrote into our development environment to keep us out of others work. She cried when I failed. I was to busy exploring and writing software that intersted me (including a web browser in pascal).

I remember giving a presentation to one of my classes about the social implications of the Internet. I explained the distributed nature of it, the communities that existed, I discussed info security and the frailty of US infrastructure and how someone like I could rapidly organize like minded hackers into a force capable of bringing an entire country to it's knees. This was all extremely interesting to me. They were white as ghosts. The class didn't have a single question, didn't say a single word.

There are countless other instances in my life to confirm my belif, too many to list here. My realization is simple. Computers, and the Internet are a magic void. Those who can dabble in the black stuff (command shell, dos prompt) are scary. Maybe I am one of those hackers they heard about on TV, maybe I use "virtual reality" (remember that movie?), maybe I seduce little girls over the Internet, maybe I steal credit card numbers. In short, they are terrified of what they do not understand.

There are still scars but none of that matters now. Out of the small school district I lived in I wound up with the prettiest girl, one of the most popular people in her school. We've been dating now for 2 years. Since dropping out, we've lived in the silicon hills and silicon valley. I've worked for a big 5 firm in London and the US, worked for IBM and BMC, worked for .com's, made more money than I ever thought possible, and made something of myself. I am not just an underachiever, or a subversive anymore. I am a software engineer and these days I am respected, for those who know what I am and what I can do, they understand that they cannot do it themselves and thus the fear becomes respect and ... appreciation.

humanity (2.00 / 2) (#141)
by goosedaemon on Wed Dec 06, 2000 at 08:12:58 PM EST

the important thing here is that geeks, being people, have the bad stuff too. if we really want to be different we have to chuck the biological things that serve to help us survive in a doggy world, because we don't live in a doggy world any more, we live in a God-made-us-sentient world. something to try, suggested to me by a teacher, is to think of less-smart people not as being less-smart but as just being different, much as we think of, say, a foreigner, because they're human too and therefore deserve our respect too... and stuff.

Dvorak = anarchist = banned (4.00 / 5) (#142)
by Espresso_Boy on Wed Dec 06, 2000 at 08:14:47 PM EST

I once had a typing class (I just wanted an easy A) that used Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing. In my profile at my assigned computer, I told the program to act as if I had a dvorak keyboard instead of qwerty. This was so I could type as if I were using my computer at home. I knew where all the keys were so it didn't matter. One day we had a speed test where the teacher watched and recorded our typing speed. She was amazed at my ability to type at 65wpm (which was fast compared to all the other kids, now anything less than 95wpm is an insult) until she noticed that the key presses didn't correspond to the keys on the screen. She asked me what I had done, and I explained that I had configured the keyboard as dvorak. She was outraged. I had configured the program differently than how she expected, but there were no rules against it. What really angered her was that I had been typing at home. Some how practicing is considered cheating. Some how she linked the fact that I didn't wish to use the same layout as every one else to being an anarchist (but that phase didn't happen untill four years after her class). The result was that I was banned from the computer lab and the library (computers in there too), and disallowed to be in a room with a computer without a teacher present. I had broken no rules, but they claimed that I had the potential to be destructive to their system (what about all the kids that turn off extensions during boot to bypass security and change their grades, look at porn, and play games?). I was removed from the class and put in the "inschool suspension room" during that period for the rest of the term. At least they removed the class from my record instead of failling me.

luckyness (2.00 / 2) (#144)
by juzam on Wed Dec 06, 2000 at 08:41:22 PM EST

i here many stories about injustice, being kicked out of the computer lab, etc, yet i can't really relate to this. im in high school right now. i could be lucky that i go to the right school, but here i am never picked on. i am not even pushished for anything. an example: in ap comp sci, after finishing my work, me and another peer decided to go about disabling fortress on our windows machiens. it only took a boot disk, softICE, and about 15 minutes. but even though the teacher knew what we were up to, he never stopped us. he cheered us on. in fact, hes trying to get us permission to do try our luck on fortress 4.0 in the library. i find myself immune to everything that is bad about this school: noone bugs me in the hall (guess my purple hair scares them), i bring copies of 2600 to school, i am on the ultimate team (the princepal hates us for some reason and is doing everthing he can to stop us from being school sponsored). but nothing ever happens. the closest ive come was fucking up my 8th grade keyboarding teachers performa. turns out you cant run the launcher at startup when atease is working. anyway, she threated my with a permanent ban from the library. but nothing ever happened, despite her vows to end my threat to society. guess im just luck.
.:rim vilgalys:.
i can't think of a good subject (2.33 / 3) (#147)
by krogoth on Wed Dec 06, 2000 at 10:21:31 PM EST

After reading a lot of stories about bad experiences, I think that i'm in a pretty good school. I'm not really popular, but one of the biggest "jocks" in the school wants to play an Unreal Tournament game against me... But unfortunately some teachers aren't very smart. Once I was waiting to use a computer at the library, and the kid who was using it put the resolution too high (because it was set to 640x480), so windows screwed up (it was one of those times when you see three images of what's on the screen, and they're distorted), but the libraring said I wasn't allowed to fix it (a very easy thing to do which I had already had practice with). I think they just can't understand anything that they haven't been told is the "right way to do things"... so they have to wait for someone who comes once every few weeks. There are also many times when I have been told "the internet doesn't work" - and been in my email account in under a minute.
"If you've never removed your pants and climbed into a tree to swear drunkenly at stuck-up rich kids, I highly recommend it."
Computers, success, happiness, etc. (2.66 / 3) (#148)
by MoxFulder on Wed Dec 06, 2000 at 10:36:16 PM EST

I've been programming computers since I was about eight years old ... however, I've never considered myself a "computer geek" and I pretty much despise the term, actually.

I guess I was never really an outcast, but I was pretty much an awkward kid who didn't fit in. I always had a few good friends though. When I got to high school, my parents basically forced me to pick a sport and play it instead of coming home from school every day and hacking away at the computer. I thought I would hate them for it, but it turned out to be one of the best things they ever did for me. I got to be a pretty good runner and I took up swimming too, although I was a bit too uncoordinated to be good at swimming :-)

What did this do for me? Well, I got to know and respect all the sports people I had despised before, and I got respected by them in turn. I think running and swimming have helped me with academics and computers too ... I find it a lot easier to concentrate my mind after my body is physically worn out and tired.

Like you, I didn't always like the way my school treated kids who were good at computers. On the one hand, they did have a way to waive out of the required computer classes, but on the other hand the @#$(*% librarian always got mad at me when I ran telnet on the library computers. Running screaming librarians always seemed like an ineffective security system :-) I would always think, "If you don't want us to do certain stuff on these computers, why don't you install a secure operating system like Linux?"

Basically, I think adults (especially school administrators!) just hate kids who know too much about stuff that they know hardly anything about :-) Computers are obviously the best example, but let's just say that my school didn't always appreciate my best friend's knowledge of telephone wiring.

"If good things lasted forever, would we realize how special they are?"
--Calvin and Hobbes

Personal feelings on what needs to happen. (2.66 / 3) (#151)
by Maxthree on Wed Dec 06, 2000 at 11:45:04 PM EST

In regard to 'geeks' (just the word I'll use to describe those with relatively advanced computer knowledge) in High School I think you need to look at High School as a micro society. There are different groups, levels and structures within society and High School. In my high school there were rather clearly defined groups all throughout my year levels. Of course people changed groups, some factional fighting occured, but in general everything worked ok - it had to.

What I'm trying to get at is that there will be and are social divisions in High Schools - fact of life, get over it. But that does not mean that just because you have a fascination with computers that you have to be in the geek group and labelled as such. Your individual personality should and usually will determine your 'social/group status' at High School. Of course interests come into it a lot, but they are not the defining factor IMHO. Your personality dictates what groups you can be accepted into.

People that are now thinking that 'they don't care about social groupings, and I want to be an individual etc. etc.' are being fairly stupid. Just by thinking the said things you are labelling yourself in the non-conformists group, a group in it's own right. Social groupings DO matter, especially in High School. People judge you on who you 'hang out' with, and what you say/do/wear - this is a fact of life, learn to live with it. Your outward appearence of your inner personality is usually more influential than your inner personality/beliefs/feelings.

The importance of personality also comes into the problems geeks face with Computing teachers and admin staff. If your a up-front, caring, non-malicious, and sensible person and you do things in an up-front manner than it's unlikely that you are going to be prosecuted by your computing teacher for playing with the network etc. You will assume a role as a knowledgable student and probably be called upon to sort out problems that are out of reach of the teachers time or knowledge. However if you present an outward appearance of sneaky and have a poor attitude to school or the class then of course the teacher is going to be constantly suspicious of your activities - they have good reason to. Of course there will be some ignorant teachers out there who blindly persecute anyone who they think is even attempting to distrupt the computers/network - again, this is a fact of life.

If a student user does do/attemp malicious actions against school property (e.g. computers) then the full weight of the schools law should condem that student. Just the same as if a user spray painted the side of a classroom and got caught. Students need to look at the situation from the teachers point of view. They have a classfull of not only students to control, but also computers - it's akin to have double a normal class size.

I have more to say, but I've forgotten and have to go out so this'l do it :)

It's about Sports (2.25 / 4) (#153)
by dsb on Thu Dec 07, 2000 at 04:52:24 AM EST

It's all about sports, mainly the big draws; football, basketball. As a geek you need to capitalize on this, there is no other way. Learn how to manipulate the statistics. Learn how to play an instrument and play in the band that supports the TEAM. Heck, even learn how to play the game and get on the TEAM. It's quite that simple.

It's about WHAT!?! (4.00 / 1) (#168)
by communista on Thu Dec 07, 2000 at 06:09:31 PM EST

Try and be like everyone else...Even if you don't really want to....and that's not what's in your heart? So it's not the most intelligent media, but what you have said in your comment reminds me of the South Park Episode where Stan's dog is gay. *laughs*

"Don't be gay Sparky...Don't be gay."

I seriously hope that you never have children. When you are a certain way, you have feelings, inexplicable to others who may not be able to relate. I joined the Marching Band, but that was because I wanted to, not because I was trying to "fit in"...And in band, you're not just any geek...You're a band geek.

"Don't be a geek, son...Don't be a geek."
/me fucks shit up!!!!
[ Parent ]
southpark not intelligent? (none / 0) (#182)
by Ig0r on Sun Dec 17, 2000 at 12:56:39 AM EST

Heh, I'm in the marching band at my school. The funny thing is that our football team...sucks, but the band is great and it's pretty big and respected.
Yay hardcore band!

[ Parent ]
Yeha!!! (none / 0) (#184)
by communista on Sat Dec 23, 2000 at 01:11:18 AM EST

Go bandies!! I miss it lots...Man that was an old post of mine....glad I caught your reply!

/me fucks shit up!!!!
[ Parent ]
No.. (3.00 / 2) (#156)
by Girf on Thu Dec 07, 2000 at 08:29:09 AM EST

I'm speaking for myself here. Pretty much everything you said, I believe is wrong. Yesterday the student's conusil at my high school held a budget meeting. The Radio Club got $2000, while the most any sport got was $1500.

The Radio Club is the closest to a bunch of geeks we have at our school, it does the morning annoucements, plays music before school (all downloaded off Napster), and sets up for assemblies.

We are not prosecuted at your school. Not by the students, nor the administration. In fact Paul and I, last year approached the prinicipal and we got the approval for a linux box.

Now, there have been some groups at school that we have not meshed well with. First, teachers with control over computers. The programming teacher, we have one, for one programming course; a course in Visual Basic, which covers the things I learned in grade 5 on my own time, for that reason I did not take the course. But she (the programming teacher) is scared of the computer herself, and convinced that everyone plays games, or sends messages over Novell.

The second group is the board technicians. About a month ago, we find our linux box stolen. The techies had physically removed it, when we get it back and examine the bash history, we find all they looked for was jpgs.

However, there was a time in life when I was ridiculed, and made fun of, even beat up; it was when I was still in elementary school, before PCs became commonplace in the home, at least in my area. I was the only one interested in computers, and I was rejected for that, called a 'computer nerd'; that all stopped around '95 or '96, I was still not accepted, but it wasn't because I was a 'computer nerd'.

Just remember, high school is what you make it. If you go and promote geekism, geekism will thrive.

BTW... (3.00 / 1) (#157)
by samsara on Thu Dec 07, 2000 at 11:21:13 AM EST

Just remember, you're an individual....just like everyone else :)

It's a state of mind in any society to fear what is not understood. It's been happening since fire was discovered (and more accurately putting it to a good use). I remember being put out in the hall in 5th grade for being innovative with Logo's REPEAT feature. It was mostly because the teacher was a control freak within the confines of a private school...I don't think it had anything to do with the coined "geekiness" of the action. I did however experience the same things in high school that you experienced as far as being sent to the office for things as silly as logging in through DOS and mapping drives to access the library's servers. But my observations are somewhat different. They had no idea what security was at the time...even if a professional did set up the network, they wouldn't have been able to maintain it with the staff that they had, which is why they had to clamp down on suspicious actions instead of analysing weaknesses in the system (ie. installing programs like Fortress on classroom PCs instead of looking at the network itself, encouraging computer education with administrators and students alike). Maybe in a way, some of the teachers felt altruistic in preparing me to face the outside workforce where similar things would not be tolerated. But I'd rather not speculate...things have changed drastically in the past few years. I can't really blame them for giving it their best shot.

I do know this. That throughout my high school experience, there was an outcasting mentality within certain people...but not everyone. Personally I made it neccessary to point out that they were being completely silly. I looked around and found some fairly mature people that were honestly interested in education and personal development. Hey, maybe those few that were "rude" and inconsiderate would someday wise up. Now that I think of it...I went to a vocational school...nevermind :)

All in all, it is what you make of it. If you act suspiscious, you will be seen as so. After being sent to the V. Principal the third time, I offered to help them with security, computer configurations, and training. After that...didn't have a single problem (go figure).

I've seen it myself (none / 0) (#159)
by Lee^ on Thu Dec 07, 2000 at 11:33:31 AM EST

I had to deal with all the restrcitions on the school computers as well, but you have to understand that there's always the l33t h4X0r that school admins are afraid of that will shut down the network and cause other damages. It seems like schools have these huge networks with dozens of computers, and for what? I suppose the internet can be used to help with school work, but I never really found it useful. The kids that know how to use it and find what they need already have full access at home, and the kids that don't have computers at home typically don't understand anything about them. (my school didn't have any kind of classes that revolved around computer technology, so that could change a bit in your school) My suggestion is just to do what I did and get in good with whoever is in charge of the network. I was messing with this mac that wasn't working with a digital camera, "what's the password to get into here?" "Administration" it turns out that was the password for everything. :)

The Thin Red Line (3.00 / 1) (#160)
by Noxx on Thu Dec 07, 2000 at 01:01:45 PM EST

I am unsure of the rest of you, but I know when I crossed from being well liked to being feared and, perhaps not hated, but fairly well disliked by faculty, administration, and the student body. It came around middle school, when I gained more interest in my own welfare and knowledge about the things I loved than getting good grades and humouring parents and so forth. I can still tell that some teachers wish to see me maimed for not honoring their choice to teach and doing my best in their class, or somesuch nonsense. I remember this as *the* defining momemt for just who I could trust. I remember most of my friends (punks) were supportive, talked with me, and just stayed by my side, as I did with them. My parents, on the other hand, are another story. I wouldn't have a computer now if they had been able to find a place to put it in our small, pitiful house (so filled with crap that they actually admitted that the only reason I still was allowed on the comp was because there was _no_ room left in the house for it elsewhere). My father is somewhat sketchy on this. Sometimes he is supportive of what I'm doing, and at other times, wants to beat me blind. My mother is tolerant of me sheerly because of my father's sayso. Honestly, I can't say that my parents are evil, nor the faculty, student body, or administration. I know them to be human beings with loves and fears and so on. Unfortunately, I know that they do not recognize me as such. They are perfectly contented to categorize me and file me in a juvenile detention center asap. This because I can turn their network into digital spaghetti, because I fail to recognize "American History" (what history? oh, you mean the bloody civil war? or southern heritage? the confederacy lasted all of 5 years, you stupid hicks. Our history is NOT something to be proud of). And so, here I am, sitting in the library of my school, a 16 year old boy who has to teach himself the things he loves: metaphysics, philosophy, art, modular space, astrophysics, genetic engineering, and everything else beautiful in the mind of a geek. Please note that I also skateboard, play guitar, and listen purely to punk rock. (die mainstream die.) C'est la vie.

The Thin Red idiot (1.00 / 2) (#179)
by threshold on Tue Dec 12, 2000 at 02:28:39 PM EST

Right on man! I totally know where your coming from! Fucking parents coming down on me too. My parents bought me a computer, and provide food for me, and give me a roof over my head. But they hate me. My friends are the only ones who know me. We all jack we other off in a big circle jerk. That's what us punks do, jack each other off. No one understands because I don't do school work, and even goto class sometimes. Just I fail to pay attention in History class and think I have all the answers. I think American History only consists of the Civil War (that was the one History class I went to). I'm such a fucking rebel. So I just here in expose myself in the library hoping that everyone will realize how smart I am. Afterall I'm studying so many subjects. Let me list them all so I can try and show off how smart I am! Astrophysics, metaphysics, jacking off physics, modular space, and genetc engineering, admitly I know nothing about these, but I know OF them, pretty leet eh? Please note for further that I'm hardcore and a punk at heart, I'm going list really cool activies that I've seen other people do, skateboarding, playing a device known as a guitar, and I listen purely to Kenny G! (Die mainsteam die!). Quelle dit en francais est tres importante.
Open Source, Open Standards, Open Minds
[ Parent ]
ah high school and computers... (none / 0) (#166)
by rebelcool on Thu Dec 07, 2000 at 04:30:59 PM EST

Indeed I to had fun manipulating the system. During my last 2 years of high school, they finally got the internet and I exploited tecnologically ignorant staff at every chance I got. I recall playing quake during art class with some class members..my teacher complained, but we told her it was an innocent game of tag (we had set the weapon hand's to middle, so you couldnt see the gun which seemed to bother her in post-columbine weeks). As I fragged my friend, she commented "ooh, did you tag him?" "Yes, I tagged him good." Hm, the occasional infraction for using explorer to peruse the network drives and see what other people had in their folders... why they didnt have this secure still escapes me. I recall playing nesticle my senior year was punishable by suspension, and I did my best to spread nesticle around the network drives much faster than they could delete them. Perhaps my best exploit was in the administrative servers though. They had forgotten to remove the guest account from the admin servers (idiots), and the admin servers served the internet unfiltered. I wanted to read the onion, and so I always tapped in through the admins...

All in all, I never really got caught. And the quake thing still cracks me up today.

If you're in high school and reading this, stand up for your rights. Don't accept bullshit from administrators. If theres anything they hate, its someone with a brain calling them out on their ignorance. I did so frequently, and the administrators typically left me alone :)

COG. Build your own community. Free, easy, powerful. Demo site

Sillicon valley schools (none / 0) (#169)
by strlen on Thu Dec 07, 2000 at 09:07:27 PM EST

Here is something which will make every opressed geek here feel a lot better: yes, there is hope.

I myself attend a high school in Cupertino, California -- the Sillicon Valley. It is very strange in fact. We have a whole group of Computer Science courses (I am in Computer Science AP right now), which are popular with the students (although I've been told that there are 40 F grades in our begginer level Java class). We have several computer labs (2 Mac, 1 Win 2k, 1 (!) Unix (Solaris and *LINUX*). We suck at sports (our foot ball team loses games 18 to none) and our ethnic make up is very strange, in fact white, anglo-saxon American born are a minority (majority is from .tw, .kr, .jp, .in; several from .de, .fr, .ru, .se, .nl -- I'm from .by, but this is former USSR so you can call it .ru).

Once a teacher asked me what I was doing when I hit Stop-A on a frozen Sparc Classic, he said I was not supposed to do that. I explained that I have previous experiences, and teacher accepted that. I now get out to help out (though not very frequently) in the lab (though other students setup the Linux machines (that shows that there is a sizeable geek population as well)); other students often ask for my help and do not laugh or despise me, but many respect me for what I can do.

The point? Your school too, can be like that as well. So instead of saying how much you hate your school, why not after you graduate donate that old Sparc IPX or Pentium 100 you have sitting in your basement and tell how you can setup UNIX on the machine and use it to teach C and C++. If you do notice intelligent staff (often seen through presence of UNIX boxen), offer to help out.

[T]he strongest man in the world is he who stands most alone. - Henrik Ibsen.
My School is ALOT worse than yours ... (none / 0) (#170)
by pyralinx on Thu Dec 07, 2000 at 10:52:57 PM EST

I like to explore computers, and feel that at my school I should be allowed, I am not damaging the hardware. I was exploring DOS and the file system when a computer tech saw me and asked why i was using "DOS". After being watched all yr. last yr. following the incident, I am finally being charged with something, several somethings infact! My school removed me from the computer, and called my parents and scheduled a meeting. I am accused of viewing pornography (err no, sorry not in school. Good try at an accusation!), backdooring the system (whatever the fuck that implies), Hacking (OMG, i think that they meen cracking), Downloading files (Yes, we cant download files, no, nothing.), Evading the schools proxy server BESS(Http:// - yes i did so fuck you school. Censorship sucks anyway). My school even accused me of vandalizing a room full of PCs. How am I going to go to 14 workstations and delete all relevant files form everyone while I am seated at one computer. Because of the school systems fear of technology, we (computer elite) are feared and castigated in an effort to control us. I fear that one day, when I get even better at computers there could be repurcussions for ppl that falsly accuse me of things. The MSG is this: Schools dont need proof, expecially private (no i go to public school), and they will do what they want, until they are replaced by technologically fit persons.
======================= httP://edhotchkiss.com =======================
My school is like a war zone (2.00 / 1) (#172)
by {ice}blueplazma on Fri Dec 08, 2000 at 06:51:30 PM EST

At my school we have had computers (PC's) since 1994. They were good to. It completely depended on the teacher who was teaching your class. The old conservative ones got me in trouble for breaking security, which often wasn't enabled. Now at junior high, tha admins like me. They let me play with expensive laptops plus 10mps wireless networking :-). I can do just about anything. I think the major problem is the first time you are introduced to the admin is because you were telnetting or something "restricted." If they think all you want to do is screw up the boxes then they won't like you. However, some admins are just jacka**es. I must be lucky. My admin is a 30ish man. He lets people who obviously know what they are doing have a lot of freedom. I think that is you show you know what you are doing admins will let you do whatever you want. Or maybe not.

"Denise, I've been begging you for the kind of love that Donny and Smitty have, but you won't let me do it, not even once!"
--Jimmy Fallon
Here's my story (none / 0) (#173)
by lastwolf on Fri Dec 08, 2000 at 07:05:51 PM EST

I'm from Europe, and, sadly, we're not as far with computers in the educational system as you are. My school's in a small city, and it was last year since we finally got 4 PC's with internet acces on school.

Now, this was something that was unnoticed by most, but enjoyed by me and some friends. No security, no rules, almost no supervision. Until the first virii and trojans started to appear on the network. The sys admin really had no clue about security at all, which really got me thinking. After yet another month in which one computer couldn't be used because it's defect I wrote a letter. First of course, I talked a bit about it with friends, and one or two teachers. I convinced them to sign the letter, and so they did.

I got invited to talk about the issue; first though, I got a few comments on my use of the computer. Nothing illegal could be proven, though they would be watching me. I guess telnetting and using a dos prompt was enough to get watched. Hmm. I explained all I could, argued for half an hour.
They liked it I responded via a letter, instead of expressing an opinion in a Win98 bootscreen. I gave them a few more ideas, and they said they would talk about it...

Today, almost one year later, me and a few friends are participating in this Media Commision. People who need help with the video equipement, computers, sound stuff etc. can come to us. We earned some respect by the teachers, and they take our opinions seriously. I'm really glad they do, since so much needs to be done!

What I actually wanna say with is, just write a letter, be polite, argue with the people in charge, and just go for it -- something good will come out later, I'm sure.

"Take your wings, go out and fly.
Learn, read and soar the sky."

My School (2.00 / 1) (#174)
by DraX on Fri Dec 08, 2000 at 09:06:56 PM EST

I've had a mix of both experinces at my school, I'm a sysadmin on a linux server, and have been given the ability to basically code instead of taking a keyboarding class. But then, i was accused of "hacking" the administrators account and sending messages on there netware server. Now, i did figure out how to send messages, thru the marvels of some command tool, but i never actully did it. But i got blamed, and was almost suspended for 10 days.

My collection of experiences. (2.00 / 1) (#175)
by DigDug on Sat Dec 09, 2000 at 04:15:45 PM EST

Got to get out of class to help in the library.

Hacked the Nibbles QBasic program to deathmatch mode, and the library 286s were never empty again.

Kicked out of Pascal class for defeating the "Foolproof" program that "secured" the ancient Macs we were working on. Then kicked out of that school. Since I was already messing with the computers, it was very likely that I was also the person who stole all the mouseballs and mousepads. Good logic, right?

Barely passed "computers" class in my next school because I didn't do the busywork. OK, my fault. Still passed it because I did data entry work for the teacher (typing at 100wpm at the time helped.)

Kicked out of a computer lab for merely opening a telnet client. "If I ever find out that anyone has been using telnet in my school, I will take action." The forbidden protocol...

Yavista - if you haven't found a nice homepage yet.

I know the drill... (3.00 / 2) (#177)
by aetherspoon on Sun Dec 10, 2000 at 08:43:57 PM EST

I've been there. Two accusations of "network hacking" for something I didn't do (why the heck would I want to hack the network.... I was one of the ones trying to fix it for.... ngh... never mind, I don't want to get into that), being the scapegoat of anything that goes wrong in the school, writing a beneficial program that accidentally bypassed the security system.... bypassing the security system to fix the computer... I've been there and I'm still going through it. Know this though- although it doesn't seem it, there may be light at the end of the tunnel- just think how much more money you'll make over the "jocks" of the school. My school is starting to realize what and who I am (of course, I'm in my senior year of HS, but still...). I successfully appealed the firewall blocking www.userfriendly.org/static (nothing else, just /static.... ngh...), I'm now one of the few trusted with the security password, and I think I can change the way those same people who thought I "hacked the network" think and react to computer geeks. More and more people are realizing my skills and accepting them as skills instead of bad side effects of having a school population.
-Ćther SPOON!, blah blah blah
You think you've got it bad! (3.00 / 1) (#183)
by fliplap on Sun Dec 17, 2000 at 05:38:58 PM EST

You guys got in trouble for stupid stuff granted. But those things are what the computer club is for, messing around with stuff, learning. Well this year we got a new principal. This guy brings in teachers for token jobs, like history teachers, oh it just so happens the guy is a great basketball coach. Our principal apparently thinks very very little about any club except for the sports ones. Niether the computer club, nor the dramam club got any funding this year. Over the summer the new guy decided the school need some "cleaning". His idea of cleaning was throwing away over $20,000 worth of computer equiptment, the stuff we had been collecting for 3 years, that groups before me had been collecting since the school opened 10 years ago. He threw away _everything_, including an SGI Indy we had just gotten last year. He also cleaned out the drama department, which i'm not all that involved in, but he threw away all of thier props. The dramam department actually made money for the school, we used to have 6 plays a year, we're going to have 2 this year due to lack of funds and props. The drama club tried to raise money by selling candy, he put a stop to that saying it violated school policy. As if all this wasn't bad enough, we got ANOTHER gym, bringing us to a total of 3 gyms, basketball courts indoors and out. Ok, i'm done ranting
-- Girls are evil
High school geeks - from the trenches. | 184 comments (169 topical, 15 editorial, 0 hidden)
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