Rushing to Judgment

We expect our kids to achieve things at younger and younger ages. Kids are doing kinds of math that college students used to do–things ay beyond regular old calculus. I suppose this is fine, but why are we then complaining that our children aren’t learning anything? I wonder if in our concern to prep them for the rat race (whether that’s to college or to a job) we are pushing them in school to a point where they aren’t ready developmentally. There must be some point where brain function and personal function can’t keep up with each other….So as we push kids to achieve more, as we drive them ahead, perhaps we’re actually just driving them crazy. Sure it may be OK for a kid to try super-advanced math (I pick on math but that’s not the only thing), but what does that do to him or her if there’s a feeling that it HAS to be done not that it’s developmentally appropriate?

And now colleges are sneaking their application times earlier and earlier, encouraging kids to apply as early as March of their junior year…So are we taking away their childhoods even as we try to prepare them for adulthood? I’m not sure we’re doing anyone any favors: We end up with tired, frustrated, burned-out kids and wonder why they take refuge in drink, drugs, and video games. In looking to the future, we often seem to be forgetting the present and the past.

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About Will Dix

I am currently writing a book about college admission. I'm interested in the intersection of the college process and American culture. I attended Amherst College in the 1970s, taught high school English and theater at The Hill School in the '80s, returned to Amherst in the '90s as an admission dean, and began the '00s as a college counselor at the University of Chicago Laboratory School. I then joined Chicago Scholars as Program Director. Currently, I blog about college admission for Forbes.com. I also help community organizations serving low income students understand the college admission process so more students can consider gaining access to higher education. I have a few private college counseling clients that I take by referral only. The views expressed in this blog are mine alone.
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