The Museum of Middle School
July 10, 2014 8:41 AM   Subscribe

The avant garde tweener, now 14 and headed to high school, has opened an online museum devoted to "honoring a rather ignored stage in anthropology-- Middle School"

"a collection of ephemera, some authentic some fabricated, to dedicate and honor what we, meaning humanity as a whole, became at middle school. In a way, this is a museum of goodbyes. And this is less of an introduction and more of an invitation. Whoever you are, wherever this finds you, you are cordially invited to come with me and walk down this memory lane of who we were when we lost ourselves."
posted by zymoglyphic (18 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

Anthropologists ignore that stage because they, like the rest of us, desperately want to forget those years and erase them as if they never existed.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 9:16 AM on July 10, 2014 [9 favorites]

I didn't get a Middle School. We just went straight from Grade 7 into an 8-12 Secondary School. So I missed that sort of organized Lord of the Flies experience. But we did have the Junior smokehole, found just off the school ground. This was where the grade 8s and 9s could go and work on their nicotine addictions without adult intervention. Which led to it becoming a sort of compressed Lord of the Flies experience -- recess and lunch hours only. Savage times indeed.
posted by philip-random at 9:22 AM on July 10, 2014

People can tell you that, like snakes shed their skin, people, particularly teenagers, shed their identity. This is not true, it is a well disguised misconception. People will tell you that they have changed, but your past is still your possession. It is as much a part of you as blood and bone. People change the way they present themselves constantly, this is a well known fact. But beneath their camouflage, is every heart they broke, every connection they lost, every lesson they learned.

I don't me this as snark but with all sincerity -- the About page written by the curator is a pretty decent tribute to that stage in your life as well. It's the passion of being young with just enough maturity that you can be obsessed with what parts of your life means and able to communicate it, but without as much baggage as you'll get later.

That, and the fact that you can view the items in SEVEN different ways depending on how you like to view things, continue my ongoing feeling of thinking the kids are all right these days.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 9:23 AM on July 10, 2014

I wonder if my shattered self-image would fit in to a museum on Middle School. That's where it was destroyed, after all.

It would rest in a little pile atop a heavily scribbled-in and cried-upon journal, a bra strap that was snapped so many times that it broke once in English class, and crumpled up fake love letters stuffed into my locker by the Popular Girls when they found out who my crush was. Add a hefty dose of Drakkar Noir and it'd be perfect.

I would never go visit.
posted by Elly Vortex at 9:25 AM on July 10, 2014 [7 favorites]

No, there really isn't any part of junior high that I care to revisit. I have an 8th grade yearbook that resurfaces every 5-10 years to remind me of that. Next time I come across it I think I'll throw it in the recycling bin.
posted by usonian at 9:38 AM on July 10, 2014 [2 favorites]

Middle school was weird for me. It was grades 7-9, but it was also my only stint in life as a popular kid. I was on student council and came in 2nd in the election for school President. After that I never joined another club until I got inducted into Honor Society just a few weeks before I graduated high school. It wasn't the miserable experience that it is so many people, I actually remember it as mostly a pretty damn fun time.
posted by COD at 9:39 AM on July 10, 2014

Middle school is where I discovered The Pretenders, Pink Floyd, and Van Halen. It wasn't all bad.
posted by humboldt32 at 9:54 AM on July 10, 2014 [1 favorite]

See also (Reddit).
posted by disclaimer at 10:05 AM on July 10, 2014

Aw, I just gave my "Primates and Life History" lecture in Introduction to Physical Anthropology, including a big sections about how humans are weird compared to the rest of the primates because we have adolescence. None of the other primates really have a comparable period of time in which they are sexually mature but socially immature (you could make an argument for male orangutans who maintain their subadult looks but then coerce females into mating). I even showed a picture of Extra Awkward Teenage ChuraChura. Don't worry, middle schoolers. The anthropologists haven't forgotten.
posted by ChuraChura at 10:17 AM on July 10, 2014 [3 favorites]

I didn't get a Middle School. We just went straight from Grade 7 into an 8-12 Secondary School.

Me, either, really. Grades 7-9 were technically Junior High, but it was such a small school that the only time we were separated from the Senior High was for PE.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 10:33 AM on July 10, 2014

Middle school was where I was invited into a clique.

My sixth grade experience (and one of the rare elementary schools with six grades - which I went to from an elementary school with five because of a move) was fairly miserable, and I was ostracized by my entire class (but not really abused). Seventh grade started out in much the same way - I got into my first fight within the first couple of weeks, and the only thing that gave me some air was starting to gain a reputation as rather explosively violent.

And then, for some reason, Nichole invited me into her clique. No idea why, to this day. I was the lowest on the six rung totem pole, but I didn't care - I made no efforts to raise my ranking, which must have made me invaluable to the other members. I was the weird kid who drew maps of places that didn't exist, and was as obsessed with Days of Our Lives as they were, and we bonded around my weirdness and soap operas.

I have endlessly fond memories of that clique, and it also brought home to me in a profound way that Nichole, despite being perfect and beautiful and kind and the leader of our merry band of women, had her own suffering and sadness. The last day of Junior High (it was a two year school and we were all headed for the same High School) she was sobbing over something someone said to her, and all I wanted to do was comfort her.

Years later I met up with one of the clique members again, a girl who had briefly been a friend before she turned on me in sixth and who had been an uneasy to easy acquaintanceship in the clique, and while I had nothing but fondness for the memories of how important the clique had seemed then, she was filled with shame at how she had behaved.

Sometimes I think those years had a profound influence on me on how much we don't see about the interior lives of other people. I knew I had kingdoms within me, but so did perfect and wonderful Nichole (who was, indeed, a very nice, kind, thoughtful, considered person, though not the unmitigated goddess savior my seventh grade self saw her as).
posted by Deoridhe at 10:40 AM on July 10, 2014 [3 favorites]

I was the kid who circled around the clique as they stood gabbing in a tight group, trying to find a gap big enough to squeeze into or a shoulder low enough to peer over. Those were not fun years.
posted by mudpuppie at 10:52 AM on July 10, 2014

Also, huge 1980s glasses and mullet (with the added bonus of a perm!).

That's really all that needs to be said.
posted by mudpuppie at 10:53 AM on July 10, 2014 [1 favorite]

Junior high was 3 years of hell for me. I got swirlied, I got an atomic wedgie so roughly done, I bled from my ass for 3 days. I got beat up - never a one on one fight, always a pack. I got shoved in a locker and left. Mocked for my clothes, my face, my hair, my posture. And it wasn't just boys - girls would call, or pretend to be nice to me just so they could set me up for some joke or other. They were almost worse - boys would eventually get bored and move on. Girls... They don't give up as easily - and you can't deter them with a bloody nose.

The best was when I'd complain to teachers, principals, anyone - the response was "well if you were nicer, maybe they wouldn't do that" and all the other kids will be kids bullshit.

It took a bright and funny, if a bit weird, kid and made him actually visualize and plan out the torture and murder of his classmates. It turned this happy go lucky kid into a paranoid loner who to this day has problems with authority and relationships. It set up more than a decade of self loathing and hatred from which I've only begun to break away from.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 11:28 AM on July 10, 2014 [2 favorites]

Will there be bathroom stalls just for crying?
posted by killy willy at 12:16 PM on July 10, 2014 [2 favorites]

This American Life's look at middle school.
posted by TedW at 12:59 PM on July 10, 2014

and one of the rare elementary schools with six grades

Huh. Of all the elementary schools I attended, all but one went to Grade 6. The only one that didn't went to Grade 3, and fed into a larger school that went to Grade 6.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 7:16 PM on July 10, 2014

Giving favorites seems like a very twisted way to offer commiseration, but it's all we've got here.
posted by benito.strauss at 7:44 PM on July 10, 2014 [1 favorite]

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