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Popularity and Groups

If there is one book you read for the sake of your son read ‘Ringleaders and Sidekicks’ by Rosalind Wiseman. She dedicates a chapter to an issue I see our staff, students and parents grapple with throughout each term – popularity and groups.

Wiseman believes the breakdown looks something like this: 10% look like they fit into the ‘stereotypical popular Australian male’, 75% make up the general population, 10% hang out at the bottom and 5% satellite around everyone else. The ‘Top’ 10% are a piece of the machine. They are good at least one sport, they have an intense need to be in the 10% and their look becomes their social uniform e.g. cloths, slang etc. Their parents allow and make excuses for negative ‘boy’ behaviour.

‘The Majority’ is made up of different groups of about 5-10 boys who don’t always think of their image in terms of the stereotypical popular Australian male. The only time The Majority boy cares about his image is when he decides to fight his way into the ‘Top’ 10%. ‘The Bottom’ 10% can appear odd to others but don’t care as long as they have one strong friendship. They don’t feel they have to prove themselves to anyone. The last thing these boys want is for their parents to help them ‘be cool’.

‘The Outer Perimeter’ exist apart from the entire social system. They are good at blending into the background and have strong friendships outside of school. Wiseman claims there are individual roles within these groups. ‘The Ringleader’ is good at figuring out people’s weakness and decides what is ‘cool’ and ‘uncool’. ‘The Associate’ looks similar, is much more talkative and well liked and interested in what advantages he and the Ringleader. The Bouncer is prepared to take the fall for the Ringleader and Associate and is always eager to show his loyalty. ‘The Entertainer’ defuses any tension by being willing to make fun of himself and do awkward things. He finds it hard to stop the jokes. ‘The Conscience’ worries about getting caught and can be annoying to the group. Sometimes he will get sick of the nice-guy reputation and make a poor choice to prove he is one of the boys. ‘The Punching Bag’ is the guy who constantly cops the ridicule. ‘The Fly’ is the boy who hovers outside the group and doesn’t know how annoying he is. The others can tolerate him for a while but can lash out at him as a result of their frustration. ‘The Champion’ is respected by all, can take criticism, doesn’t make people choose friends and intervenes when there is an injustice. He holds his own opinion but listens to others.

So what? Our role as staff and parents along our journey of support of your son to be mindful of Wiseman’s advice: 1. We have to get out of our denial, 2. There’s always a good reason in his mind for what he did, 3. He acts differently around his friends than he does around us, and 4. He reveals and hides different things with us than with his friends. Enjoy the rollercoaster journey!

Junior School Cu Chullain Awards Week 4

Congratulations to the following students:

Year 4 : Kit Lilienstein, Harry Smith, Matthew Heers, Gus Clifford
Year 5 : Oliver Kelly, Ben Roach, Thomas Davis-Taylor, Zander de Vries
Year 6 : Matthew Hiley, Cameron Booth, Keenan Simpson, Haydn Roberts

Mr Conor Finn, Dean of Formation
finnc@atc.qld.edu.au.