OK, I Can’t Shut Up

Last year I wrote a post or two (or three) about the craziness in the air about college admissions. I also urged Mr. Schafer to take the issue seriously, and I’m happy that he is doing so.

I really love my students, and I hate to see them unhappy needlessly, so I have to say something again.

I had an argument with my class this morning – it really was an argument, with passions and raised voices and ending with one student giving up, saying, “I don’t want to talk about this.” And I know I wasn’t as helpful as I could have been. I’m too passionate about it too.

The argument comes down to this: students feel that they MUST take on a workload that will push them right to the bleeding edge of their ability (and sanity), otherwise they won’t have happy lives.

That’s what they’re saying (and you, gentle reader, are probably one of “them” – but this piece is not really for you; more on that below). They don’t like to see it that way because it’s pretty obvious when you boil it down like this that it’s kind of crazy.

I won’t rehash what I said previously about how a wise idea (“get a good education”) has gotten twisted so far that it’s no longer a healthy adage. There’s no point in discussing it with people who are simply unable to hear it.

And I get that. I understand that the students have so much of their psychic energy, their whole world view wrapped up in this value proposition that they can’t see anything else. It’s like trying to tell a religious fundamentalist that s/he’s wrong about something. -It ain’t happenin’.

So it’s up to the adults to do something. If we don’t, a suicide here or there is not the worst outcome, however horrible that will be. The worst outcome is the stressbucket, rat-racing people we’re fostering. -Yes, they’re going to be really good at delaying gratification; they would have been whizzes at the Marshmallow Test. But, intentionally or not, we’re teaching them to sacrifice actually living in exchange for some imagined future that they won’t know how to enjoy if they even get there.

Plenty of people have realized this and are trying to stop the madness. The local organization ChallengeSuccess is one. Race To Nowhere is another. They have good suggestions for parents, teachers, and schools on how to help restore some balance.

I would hate for my dear students to wake up some day and, as Thoreau said, find that they never really lived.

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