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STRESSED? OR AT REST?

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Joanne Jacobs takes a look at a newly published book, The Overachievers: The Secret Lives of Driven Kids, thoughtfully left on her kitchen table by her daughter, "a classic overachiever."

According to a review of the book posted on amazon.com, author Alexandra Robbins

follows the lives of students from a Bethesda, Md., high school as they navigate the SAT and college application process. These students are obsessed with success, contending with illness, physical deterioration ... cheating ... obsessed parents. (Publishers' Weekly)

Sounds like the stuff neuroses are made of.

"The book paints a true picture for a few students," Jacobs writes, but she agrees with Washington Post education reporter Jay Mathews, that, well, contrary to the book's conclusion, " ... most kids are coasting," not exactly stressing.

Matthews writes:

... our real national problem is not that we ask most teens to do too much, but too little.

I sense a lot of teachers might agree with that. Jacobs surely does.

2 Comments

On the surface, Williams and Mathews appear to make points as different as night and day. Williams laments “a far more sinister obstacle facing African American young people today” than racism: “a culture steeped in bitterness and nihilism, a culture that is a virtual blueprint for failure.” Williams wonders “have we taken our eyes off the prize?”

Mathews opens with a cautionary tale: “be careful when you visit Walt Whitman High School …it is full of unhappy, overworked teenagers.” Mathews goes on to comment that “it would be a relief to many educators if … highly motivated students were typical and overachievement were the greatest threat to high school education today. But the sad truth is quite the opposite.”

Williams and Mathews may be approaching education from opposite ends of the spectrum, but their findings are not as different as one might expect. See viewpoint at www.thedoylereport.com

This is such an important issue, and parents and teachers seem to agree, but it doesn't seem to change how we handle the kids.

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  • Vicki Caruana: This is such an important issue, and parents and teachers read more
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