I saw the movie Adventures in Public School today. (It’s a 2017 movie and hence you may consider me a tardive movie goer!) I was immensely pleased with what I saw. The director has aptly shown how a well-meaning but insecure mother can turn an adolescent boy’s life topsy turvy. Then it goes on to show how the boy, even though socially awkward, can take his life under his control and make his mother realise why home schooling may not be all good vis a vis public school!
It is not very clear whether Liam (the lead character) is a ‘different’ kid since early childhood or whether home schooling makes him inept and socially difficult. Liam’s mother is a person with eccentricities who has home schooled Liam and fueled his interest in Physics and Astronomy. But when Liam joins Public School, apparently because he wants to ‘get close to a one legged girl’, mum also ‘teaches’ him teenage rebellion! Whether it is being able to swear (the f word), or to smoke weed and drink, or even to wear a condom, she teaches him all-in a safe environment (e.g. with mom and grand mom!). Indians will find it hard to accept, but adolescents do need proper education about such issues. School doesn’t help, adventures in and out of school teach our kids. It might just be worthwhile to consider alternative educational means for getting our teenagers understand drugs, swear words and physical intimacy with the opposite sex (or anyone for that matter!)
What I found especially endearing was Liam, who is a ‘nerd’, thinking rationally but seldom socially and emotionally appropriate. He also has difficulty in speaking to the girl, who he is interested in, and keeps finding mathematical possibilities of ‘seeing’ her in school. But when he gets sexts from this girl, he is unable to respond sexually by sexting back and sends rational responses on text!! We all know such kids, don’t we? Many of us have been adolescents and may recall how shame and embarrassment engulfed us when a sexually loaded conversation was ongoing. Liam on the other hand doesn’t have shame because initially he doesn’t realize it is sexual in content. Later, he sheds his inhibitions, possibly because of alcohol or because others (a classmate’s mum) is doing it.
In the end Liam gets a kiss (several kisses) from the girl and also gets into college. That should be a lesson to our school going kids (and their parents) that social difficulties in a mate may be a cause of laughter, but the ‘nerdiness’ can be clearly useful in later life.
Adventures in Public School is helpful for a lot of aloof and broody kids in High School today, to accept how they are, who they are and to focus on what they can do better. Rationality and logic works. Being a part of the gang, swearing, drugs and opposite sex may be immediate pleasure but is it the life you want?! Choose kids, choose.