May 06, 2006

Stress Is a Killer

Teacherken wrote a very thoughtful piece the other day that should be read by anyone who is worried about what we are doing to our children. Noting that the study that found Americans are unhealthier than the British could be due to stress, Ken points out that the pressure put on school children is also incredibly stressful.

We have had many advocates of lengthening our school day. We are seeing recess and physical education limited to provide more time for instruction, which - like the lengthening of the day - is intended to improve test scores. We are hurtling down a path of ever increasing requirements in the name of greater rigor. We have people arguing for more challenging courses, and more homework, and even lengthening our school year. I think in the process we are killing our school children.

We are subjecting them to ever increasing amounts of stress at ever decreasing ages, even as we know for certainty that above a certain level stress is harmful. In the process we already see evidence that we killing their desire and enthusiasm for learning, and if we think even a bit critically we will also see that we are creating patterns of behavior and health that are quite likely to lead to serious health problems earlier in life, inevitably diminishing the quality of life they enjoy and shortening its length as well.

It is clear that school-aged children have significantly more homework, lots more tests and are engaged in many more activities (including work) after school than was common in the baby-boomer generation. Has it created a world that is more competent or just more stressful? What happens to people when everyone is supposed to be an A-type personality and have every moment of their day used productively in order to make it in the world? If this is what has come of our "reforms", what type of world will these children have when they become adults?

Posted by Mary at May 6, 2006 12:30 PM | Recommended Reading | Technorati links |

Excellent blog you got here. Good questions you raise about stress... America, the land of unforseen consequences.

Posted by: Station Agent at May 6, 2006 01:07 PM

What kind of world? Perhaps the educational system should be focusing on the world as it was before 1900 -- a world that made almost no use of oil. That seems to be the world they are headed toward.

Posted by: Scorpio at May 7, 2006 09:09 AM

Hey, if I can be stressed, and they stressed me the heck out when I was a kid, to heck with this new batch. Why should we care? And really, it's doing them a favor for when they get into their first job, preparing them for the sort of brutal and relentless misery they will endure.

Yeppers, nothing messed up with this society, nothing to see, move along.

Posted by: natasha at May 7, 2006 01:10 PM