Teaching Tuesday – The Outsiders

How does the book The Outsiders, published in the 1960’s, still work for students all these years later? 

I think teen culture is essentially the same. Listening to music, hanging out with friends, dealing with the stresses of family and school are similar experiences today.  

Even more, it is a story about fitting in and rebelling. I remember the tension I felt as a teen, wanting to fit in on one level, but then feeling rejected by mainstream society. My rebellion, admittedly, was based as a response to my sense of being an outsider. But it became part of my young identity, and the attitudes of being an “outcast” still are with me today, for the good or the bad. 

But being honest, I think it’s the violence that puts it over the top. The crisis faced by Ponyboy and Johnny, the gang rivalry, even the sibling infighting all contribute to the drama of this story. 

As a teacher, I’m just happy it still works. And it’s fun to hear stories about kids who tell their parents about what they’re reading, and the response is “I read that when I was your age!”