A Conversation for American Teenage Stereotypes

Britain is very different

Post 1

Dr Chaotica!

My only experience of American teenagers was all those shows like Saved By The Bell, City Guys etc. I came to the conclusion that the preps, goths etc. must all be stereotypes, and real American high-school life was nothing like that. I am surprised to discover that that's how American high-schools actually are!

Here in Britain, we don't categorise ourselves. Sure, there are different social groups, but they're all much of a muchness - usually no difference in dress or attitudes. And people don't consider themselves better than everyone else. Everyone just gets along.

Watching American chat shows, I am always disturbed by people who categorise themselves as "preppies", "freaks", "nerds" and so forth. In the UK we're all just individuals. The words "freak" and "nerd" are insults, not social categories.

Britain is very different

Post 2

Caveman, Evil Unix Sysadmin, betting shop operative, and SuDoku addict (Its an odd mix, but someone has to do it)


My impression of this stereotyping business over the other side of the pond is that of utter amazement that a society can split itself up in such a drastic fashion.

It's pretty much like the situation we have in Northern Ireland, with protestants and cathloics, loyalists and republicans, all disassociating themselves from each other because they feel that this is what is expected of them. I'm sure it must cause social tension.

This must be pretty close, you only have to look at recent news stories regarding shootings, and other terrible stories coming from the USA.

Thank goodness that in most of the UK, people can be different, and most of the time, agree to be different.

Britain is very different

Post 3


Now then, chaps.... What about our wonderful British class system? Where have you been living not to have come across this? smiley - smiley

Britain is very different

Post 4

Caveman, Evil Unix Sysadmin, betting shop operative, and SuDoku addict (Its an odd mix, but someone has to do it)

In Schools?

Perhaps having left school many years ago, I missed it, but at state comprehensive schools I had never seen examples of this 'class system'.

Perhaps with the emergence of the 'fat cat' economy some of it has filtered down into schools. I don't know. I'm not there.

However, if you take into account different types of school (i.e. state controlled, grant maintained, grammar, fee-paying, and private (so called 'public' schools)) then yes, there is a very different attitude at each end of that spectrum. I could potentially have attended a 'public' school, coming from an upper middle class background (atleast that's what some observers may call it, I've never looked down or up at people on that basis, although I do look down very strongly on people who will not make an effort to improve their lives ('underclass'), and equally on those who have so much money that they don't have to make that same effort ('Rich b*****s').
Instead, I went to the local comprehensive school, which had we had league tables then, would have been up for relegation.

The gap between the rich and the rest of the population, many of who are a month's pay away from the breadline, is growing far faster than I'd like to see.

I'm all for a classless society, providing we can also lose the 'underclass'. The people who receive benefit handouts from the state and won't lift a finger to improve themselves. While many are trapped in that situation by uncaring governments and employers, many could get out if they tried. I don't have a solution, and I don't think there is an easy one.

Anyway, this post is getting far too long. I'll shut up and let someone else get a word in.

Britain is very different

Post 5


Speaking from the perspective of someone currently at school (and also shamefully misusing the free internet access I am privileged to have access to, thanks Mr Blair!) I have to say that divisions in our schools are alive and kicking! Although maybe not as strict as those which exst in America, there are most definitely cliues in our schools. For example, in my school there are the three main groups;

Those who go to the local nightclub (a hell hole in my opinion and not more than a meat-market), listen to whatever's in the charts, namely boy bands and soft R'n'B, and wear skirts up their arses in the case of girls, and big branded clothes in the case of boys.

Former townies who pretend to be into "alternative" music and think that listening to the Manics makes them cutting edge (although they do try, bless them)

The real hard core group
They walk around with heavy make-up at all times (and this applies to the boys as well as the girls) and delight in listening to music by bands that no-one else has ever heard of, and dropping tham as soon as they become well known, boasting that they knew them before they got famous and that now their music is so "commercial" (the kiss of death as far as this group is concerned).

There are also many sub groups but these are the main categories I have found. As you may have noticed they are hevily linked with music but this is the easiest way to differentiate between them all.

Britain is very different

Post 6


As far as I am aware, the 'class system' in the UK is based on someone's job. Today, an Engineer (1) is in the same class as a Lawyer (1), who are both in a higher class than a Lord (2). Unless the Lord is an Engineer or Lawyer, of course.

I find that we generally do not talk about or even consider what class we are. It's not really relevant anyway. If you want to see a real class system, look at India.

I also think we are all the better for not looking down at our noses at people worse off than ourselves.

-- Nurgling

Britain is very different

Post 7


all this and still, no one living on the eastern side of europe has ventured to grant us a peak at east europpean teens. i'm still interested because i'm sure there is a difference.

Britain is very different

Post 8


all this and still, no one living on the eastern side of europe has ventured to grant us a peak at east europpean teens. i'm still interested because i'm sure there is a difference.

Britain is very different

Post 9

Gareth McKittrick

where do you come from because the Britain you speak of is not the same one I have expereinced. It is possibly even worse here than it is in America for this sort of generalising people with stereotypes.

Britain is very different

Post 10


You are going to have to justify that statement Gareth...

-- Nurgling

Britain is very different

Post 11

Caveman, Evil Unix Sysadmin, betting shop operative, and SuDoku addict (Its an odd mix, but someone has to do it)

Do you consider yourself stereotypical then?

I try and be quietly different. Being slightly bonkers helps.

Britain is very different

Post 12


Define quetly different. Most of the people i know who are a)different and b)bonkers tend to be rather loudly different.

Britain is very different

Post 13

Caveman, Evil Unix Sysadmin, betting shop operative, and SuDoku addict (Its an odd mix, but someone has to do it)

Ok, sometimes loud.

Britain is very different

Post 14

Prof OE

That really is scaryly true !

Britain is very different

Post 15


I like to think that I am not stereotypical. It's hard to tell... Here in Germany everyone I meet swears I am the pinnacle of Britishness: prudish, possessing a deeply ironic sense of humour, sometimes prim and proper. Sometimes I just completely contradict most of that. (I mean, I cannot shrug off the sense of humour!)

As far as fitting into a preppy, gothic or other stereotype, I do not really know. I don't think so.

-- Nurgling smiley - fish

Britain is very different

Post 16

Gareth McKittrick

Stereotypes are bad thigs in my book. People shouldnt really fit into a type. On the ohter hand people shouldnt try and not it into a niche. If you try to be different, then you arent really different becuse you are trying to be.

Britain is very different

Post 17

No O2

Do you have any idea how many high schools are in the US? School shootings are an unfortunate trend across the country. But they make the news because they're so rare and shocking. I say this as someone who's from near Littleton, CO: the idea that school shootings are a common thing in the US is a disappointing stereotype. Secondly, it's a shame that we have social cliques in schools, but I don't think they really cause that much social tension. And I would know; I finished high school in a place where there were tons o' cliques. Snobby people were looked down upon regardless of their clothes. Finally, there are cliques in Britain too. I've never lived for any long amount of time there, but I can recall walking down a street and seeing a group of people getting called some name (it eludes me) by a passing car. A (English) friend informed me that it was an insulting name for those nouveau hippies we see everywhere in both countries. {deep breath} I tend to get on a soapbox on h2g2.

Britain is very different

Post 18

Joe aka Arnia, Muse, Keeper, MathEd, Guru and Zen Cook (business is booming)

I go to a grammar school in Bucks. We have only a few famous old boys (Terry Pratchett being the most) and are very relaxed. There is no "you must succede" attitude that is pushed down our throats, there is no class division (despite that we come from many different walks of life). The teachers are as relaxed as we are (sometimes more so) and so we are never segregated by circumstance. My friends come from various socio-economic classes and I would never judge them on that. I hang around in a certain group cos they happen to match my moods and tastes most but the groups tend to move quite regularly and mix very well. We don't call ourselves anything, we just are. I can't say that this is typical (even at my school there are some people who feel a compulsion to follow the groups and adopt their behaviour to fit in but then they are pittied more than anything else by the rest of us) but it is certainly my experience. We dislike the "elitist" Royal Grammar and Dr. Challonners because of the social segregation and strict rules. At our school we are allowed to be ourselves and act like who we really are even in lessons. The teachers are as young at heart as we are.

Joe aka Arnia
smiley - fish
JHGS Fishies

Elitist Grammer Schools

Post 19

Bald Bloke

As a not famous former pupil of the same school (I left 24 years ago)
I have to say I think its a shame that they have added the word grammer into the school name.

When I was there the school was still regarded as a technical school, although the name had changed from Wycombe Technical High School, to The John Hampden School when it moved up the hill (before I arrived).

My explanation of this view is below, I will admit to being biased and it may not be very well worded because I'm writing it at gone midnight.

A bit of history (and comment on the system)
As I dont have any books to hand I'm going to pass on putting dates in.

Earlier this / last centuary (depends on your opinion of when the Centuary starts / ends) the majority of people left school at 14 only those with wealthy parents who could afford the fees or pupils who obtained scolarships were able to go to grammer schools and stay on 16 to take exams.
These schools regarded themselves as the elite and took every opertunity to drum this into their pupils.

The government then introduced a number of education acts and eventually (much later)raised the minimum school leaving age to 16.
The system they introduced was a selective secondary school system.

For those not ancient enough to remember it, the old British secondary system (11 - 16) was split into three types of school, Grammer schools, which concentrated on academic subjects with the aim of pupils going on to university or into "professional" careers eg Banking etc.
Technical schools, which concentrated on Science and Technology with the aim of pupils going into skilled jobs in industry (yes we did have some then!)
Secondary Modern Schools, which concentated on practical subjects, it being assumed that these pupils were not academic and would go into unskilled or semi skilled work.

Pupils were selected on the basis of the 11 plus exam, which was based on the supposition that you could tell at the age of 11 how people would turn out in later life, with the top 15 - 20% going to Grammer school the next 15 - 20% going to Technical school and the remainder to the Secondary Modern.

Of course what happened in reality was that wealthy parents were determined that their children would go to grammer school and so coached / arranged extra tuition for their children to ensure it.
While bright children from less well off backgrounds didn't get the extra help.

This resulted in the grammer schools still having a high proportion of children from better off backgrounds with only a few from poorer families and the reverse applying to Secondary Modern schools.
The Technical schools, being in the middle ended up with a more balenced mix of pupils from different backgrounds.

I arrived at the John Hampden by virtue of failing to get enough marks in the 11 Plus to go to the Grammer school that my parents wanted had put me down for (we had only arrived in the area a year before and wern't really aware of the John Hampden).
This was a lucky break for me as I would have been bored rigid by a heavy academic curriculem and would probably have ended up switched off and failing exams, as happened to some friends of mine who got better marks in the 11+ and went to old fashioned grammer schools.
Instead I was able to study subjects which got me into an interesting field of work and have since kept me in gainful employment.

As you have observed a lot of the old style grammer schools still have this elitist attitude which they then instill in their pupils, this attitude didn't appear in the technical schools due to the wider spead of pupils.
I'm glad this has not affected TJHS yet although I worry that once Grammer is inserted in the name that it is only a matter of time before that sort of attitude takes hold.
In a way it shows the thinking of those who changed the name.

Those with elitist attitudes need to remember that society only works when everyone pulls together.

Britain is very different

Post 20

Demon Drawer

The problem with the Northenr Ireland situation is the lack of social contact between the groups. I've been fortunate to have grown up with friends who would be deemed to be the "other side" of the Northern Ireland equation if I hadn't have known them a friends first.

I play sport on a almost evenly divided team. Our post match celebrations are in a pub which has a number of heavy paramilitary types in. Yet we have people in the group who know who's who and the conversation can be chilled down to accomadate the situation, this has also worked the other way. In Northern Ireland if you are able to cross the lines you know how to act in any given situation, location company etc. You also end up feeling responsible at time s for the behaviour of those around you. It's ironic that most people in Noorthern ireland must work with members of the "other" side yet rarely I belive do the older generation tend to socialise.

Perhaps the younger ones who have known nothing but the troubles are starting to change that. Most of my friends have no cares as to what background someone is from. Most of them voted for the first time in the referendum and most voted yes. Even those who came from hardline anti-agreement families. The social stereotyping here may be coming to an end in the Belfast communter area to some extent however in the countryside and Belfast itself the division is still rife.

As for the future I'm still optomistic even if I know the reality a little better than most, our leaders which still express bigotted responses before they tend to listen to what the other side says. In fact they are so into answering ina certain way I believe they have forgotten to listen to those people that give them their mandate to speak in the first place. 2 years ago the tide had turned, but the stagnant water that the leadership has encouraged has allowed the tide to start to drift back. smiley - sadface

I've lived in England, and supported the Republic's football team in a Irish pub in Hammersmith. No one cared that I was a Northern Protestant. I've watched a Rugby (predominantly protestant sport) in a staunchly loylaist pub in Northern Ireland and heard them cheering on the English because there wasn't a single Ulster palyer on the pitch. Somewhere a compromise as to be found for this problem and soon.

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