Monday, March 04, 2013

We Can't See What We Don't Know

By Taryn

I went to Marymount School here in Santa Barbara from kindergarten through eighth grade. I grew up with some pretty wealthy classmates. When I was little I remember wondering why my family "wasn't like the others." At age eight I did not know why I felt this way, I just felt like somewhat of an outcast. Some of my strongest memories of my elementary school years were those of me watching most of my other classmates get picked up right after school by young nannies and shiny black cars. I remember feeling a little sad about this. Both of my parents worked and I usually was not picked up until about 5:30 pm. I was on the playground working on homework until long after my most of my other friends had gone home. I would be lying if I said that there was not any point in my life where I wanted a huge house, with a pool, and a gate with an intercom in it.

As I got older I realized why I was picked up late and why I was "different" from the other kids. I come from a middle class household and I am proud to say it. There came a point back in middle school where I came to the realization that because of my lack of big cars and nannies I am probably better off. My parents gave up a lot to make it possible for me to go to private school, and I will always be grateful for that. Do not get me wrong there is nothing wrong with making money and being successful. However, there is something that I noticed happening at schools like Marymount.

There is an obvious divide between the Socialite Parents, and the Working Parents (as I've named them). I noticed that at school and school functions there isn't a whole lot of mixing that goes on between these two groups. The Socialites mingle with the other Socialites, and the Workers mingle with the other Workers. It is like two different worlds and I don't necessarily think that this is some horrible phenomenon, but I also don't think that it's a great message to send to the kids. As I grew up in school I noticed that this once strictly parental divide transferred over to my classmates that appeared rather organically. It was a monkey see, monkey do sort of thing. These behaviors cannot be blamed on any one obvious factor it seems.

Naturally the parents who are friends will have their kids spend time together, often resulting in a friendship between the kids. The segregated actions of this group could largely be attributed to the various social circles that adults run in. Now that I look at it I see my elementary school experiences more clearly. Up until now I had always blamed my exclusion on the "rich kids" in my class. I can now attribute that to human behavior. People are naturally uncomfortable with what they don't know. This works both ways no matter what walk of life you come from. That is the problem we have segregated ourselves into. Little groups based on what we are comfortable with. That is not okay. It's bad for us, and also a horrible example to set for kids. We cannot push people away because of economic or social status. We can't see what we don't know, and that is what's at the bottom of this problem.