|If I don't stand as their voice and their protector then who will?|
*What follows is one mother’s point of view about the American education system, possible over-reliance on attention medication and concerns regarding the heart of the problem. I seek to analyze, learn and understand, I hope you will come with me on my journey.*
We live in America.
The land of opportunity if –
You are driven
You relentlessly push yourself harder than others.
You work longer, faster and more efficiently than the next guy.
You get a jump on everyone around you in terms of education. If you do these things, and likely a thousand more I'm forgetting to name, you can to Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Georgetown-you name it.
If you are the best. The brightest. Have the highest test scores. Can list the most extracurricular activities at the end of your senior year.
Pressure to hurdle the if’s and grab the American dream seems to be coming younger and younger, in my humble opinion. I have two young boys, so I can only speak of my firsthand knowledge based on my experiences. You know that Bob Dylan song,“Times they are a-changin.” If you don't go to You Tube. I can't help but think we create some changes for the worse.
When I started kindergarten it was about developing empathy, learning to get along, drawing and coloring for exploring your imagination (forget staying in the lines), listening to the teacher and cultivating a love for school. I adored kindergarten. Who wouldn’t back in the ancient times of the 70's where kids were allowed to still be kids. We painted, played, sang songs, read stories, created countless things with hands-on experiments and well, heck, just had fun.
Kindergarten today, at least in my neck of America, seems to be about worksheets, sitting still for countless hours, killing creativity, pushing timed test and more information faster and earlier than it was pushed the year before and the year before that. What my children are expected to know now is equal to what kids three grades ahead of them were expected to know ten years ago. At the rate America seems to be progressing our children will be expected to have mastered middle school information by the time they finish with kindergarten.
Times definitely are changing, but are they changing for the better? America is trying to keep up with all the countries that are surpassing our kids in terms of test scores, productivity, or just plain old producing intelligent adults who create the amazing inventions of the future or become the next scientist to make a discovery that will change our lives as we know it. Yet, isn't it telling that Finland ranks well above the US in education scores, holding one of the top spots of all countries in highest education scores. Children don't even start school in Finland until age seven. The philosophy is, "Children in Finland only start main school at age seven. The idea is that before then they learn best when they're playing and by the time they finally get to school they are keen to start learning." Please go to this link for the full BBC article.
Do you ever wonder if the surge of children diagnosed with ADD has anything to do with our pressing unrealistic expectations on these children and not much to actually do with many of these children themselves? I know I do. I’m no expert but it seems forcing children to sit still, be quiet and learn higher concepts before they are developmentally ready might just lead to attention problems.
I’m not saying I don’t believe there are not genuine cases of children who have this attention disorder which require medicine for them to concentrate. What I am saying is if you will take the time to search out books written by experts in the fields of child psychology, pediatrics and medical disorders you might be shocked to learn the staggering statistics of how many children are on medication to help them concentrate and how many renowned physicians think we are over-medicating our children.
As a mother of two active boys, I worry about the amount of pressure we are putting on our children. How much pressure is too much? At what point does the pressure to fall into some preconceived notion of what the rising stars of America perform like at five, six and seven become unhealthy?
I believe many children need the medicine they are on, but I also believe we are a nation of people that want fast answers and easy solutions who rely too much on medicine and not enough on seeking alternate solutions or even looking at the heart of the problem itself, which to me is the fact that we are expecting too much from our kids too soon.
You don’t have to believe me or even agree with me. I wouldn’t presume to ask you to. Go out and research for yourself. Educate yourself. If you have children it’s your duty. I have been educating myself and I plan to continue to do so. A few of the books I’ve read are Boys Adrift, Ten Days to a Less Disobedient Child, Raising Cain, Raising a Spirited Child and Gender Matters.
How do you feel about the issue of schools expecting more and more from children every year? Do you believe this is good? How do you feel about the abundance of children on medication to help them concentrate these days? Do you have books you recommend that address either side of the issue? I’d love to hear your opinion, no matter what side of the issue you land on.