Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Stressed out students

Speaking of Suniya Luther's research at Mercer high school, Stanford News reports on the Stressed Out Students conference last month featuring Madeline Levine, author of The Price of Privilege, and Denise Pope, Director of SOS and lecturer at the School of Education:

Twenty-two percent of girls from affluent families suffer from clinical depression, three times the national average, Levine said. And when Pope researched her book, Doing School: How We Are Creating a Generation of Stressed-Out, Materialistic and Miseducated Students, she found that 75 percent of high school students said they had at some point cheated on a test, and 90 percent had copied homework.

Here's another quote:

In addition to causing psychological stress, the fixation on achievement is impeding the process of true education, said Maureen Powers, dean of students at Stanford. "If all you've done is filled your pail with a bunch of A's and a bunch of titles, and you haven't had a passion for genuine learning, you will have people who have very high grades but who are not up to the job," she said.

Beyond practical implications, Levine explained, is the development of life skills, character and happiness. "When our kids start to feel that they're only as good as their last performance, we set the stage for the inability to construct an internal sense of self," she said. "No matter how affluent your home may be, if your internal home is impoverished, it doesn't do you any good."

The focus on external achievements over inner growth comes largely from well-meaning parents who overprotect their children in the hopes of helping them succeed but forget the importance of learning to overcome obstacles, said Wendy Mogel, a psychologist and author of The Blessing of a B-. "Good parenting feels like neglect," she said. "We are overprotecting our children, overindulging them, expecting them to be perfect in every sphere, academically, socially, athletically. But we are neglecting to require of them integrity, respect for adults, self-respect."

Cindy Goodwin, from Mercer Island's Youth and Family Services, is heavily featured in Levine's book.

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