Thursday, December 31, 2015

The message our children need to hear but almost never do - The Washington Post

The message our children need to hear but almost never do - The Washington Post:

The message our children need to hear but almost never do

Peter Greene, a veteran teacher of English in a small town in Pennsylvania, wrote the following post about how hard it is to be young today. The moving piece describes the “One Wrong Move” syndrome and how scared children are of making a mistake for fear of ruining their lives because that’s the message that society sends them. He ends the post with a moving description of a class he once taught, what he told his students and how they reacted. This appeared on his Curmudgucation blog, and I am republishing it with permission.
By Peter Greene
Back in November, writer Hanna Rosin started a ball rolling with her Atlantic magazine cover story aboutthe high rate of student suicides in Silicon Valley. Two high schools in Palo Alto have a 10-year suicide rate between four and five times the national average.
If students from wealthy families in one of the most affluent communities in the country are feeling driven to these sort of extremes– what the heck can that mean? And it’s not just the issue of suicide. Rosin writes:
The rich middle- and high-school kids [Arizona State professor Suniya] Luthar and her collaborators have studied show higher rates of alcohol and drug abuse on average than poor kids, and much higher rates than the national norm.* They report clinically significant depression or anxiety or delinquent behaviors at a rate two to three times the national average. Starting in seventh grade, the rich cohort includes just as many kids who display troubling levels of delinquency as the poor cohort, although the rule-breaking takes different forms. The poor kids, for example, fight and carry weapons more frequently, which Luthar explains as possibly self-protective. The rich kids, meanwhile, report higher levels of lying, cheating, and theft.
Rosin pointed to huge pressure put on kids by their families, and Rebecca Rosen followed up with her piece, also at the Atlantic, “Why Affluent Professionals Put So Much Pressure on Their Kids.
Rosen’s conclusion is that affluent professionals find their own position fragile, and their ability to pass that position on to their children non-existent.
All of this results in what the economists Garey and Valerie Ramey of the University of California, San Diego, brilliantly termed “the rug rat race.” As they wrote in a 2010 paper, “The increased scarcity of college slots appears to have heightened rivalry among parents, which takes the form of more hours spent on college preparatory activities.” In their findings, the rug rat race takes place primarily among the most educated parents, because there simply aren’t enough spots at elite schools for less-educated parents to even really have a shot, especially as the competition accelerates. It’s for this reason that the most educated parents spend the most hours parenting, even though they are giving up the most in wages by doing so.
If you’re looking for one of the sources of the idealization of competitiveness The message our children need to hear but almost never do - The Washington Post: