HomeLatest ThreadsGreatest ThreadsForums & GroupsMy SubscriptionsMy Posts
DU Home » Latest Threads » Forums & Groups » Main » Editorials & Other Articles (Forum) » American children are dro...

Thu Dec 7, 2017, 10:34 AM

American children are drowning in self-esteem (Economist/1834)

James Astill | October 24th 2016

To sit by our local pool in Bethesda, Maryland, at swimming-lesson time, as I do every Saturday morning, is to marvel at American ambition, positivity and derring-do. Those qualities are apparent in the enthusiasm with which my children are whooped into the water by their relentlessly upbeat instructors. They are there in the short shrift the instructors give to any whingeing. My youngest was just three when he started at the pool and liable to protest; he got a lot of warm-hearted sympathy, but no let-up. “C’mon dude, stop complaining, let’s get on with it!”

Yet my children’s experience of school in America is in some ways as indifferent as their swimming classes are good, for the country’s elementary schools seem strangely averse to teaching children much stuff. According to the OECD’s latest international education rankings, American children are rated average at reading, below average at science, and poor at maths, at which they rank 27th out of 34 developed countries. At 15, children in Massachusetts, where education standards are higher than in most states, are so far behind their counterparts in Shanghai at maths that it would take them more than two years of regular education to catch up.

This is not for lack of investment. America spends more on educating its children than all but a handful of rich countries. Nor is it due to high levels of inequality: the proportion of American children coming from under-privileged backgrounds is about par for the OECD. A better reason, in my snapshot experience of American schooling, is a frustrating lack of intellectual ambition for children to match the sporting ambition that is so excellently drummed into them in our local swimming pool and elsewhere.

My children’s elementary school, I should say, is one of America’s better ones, and in many ways terrific. It is orderly, friendly, well-provisioned and packed with the sparky offspring of high-achieving Washington, DC, commuters. Its teachers are diligent, approachable and exude the same relentless positivity as the swimming instructors. We feel fortunate to have them. Yet the contrast with the decent London state school from which we moved our eldest children is, in some ways, dispiriting.

After two years of school in England, our six-year-old was so far ahead of his American peers that he had to be bumped up a year, where he was also ahead. This was partly because American children start regular school at five, a year later than most British children; but it was also for more substantive reasons.
***
more: https://www.1843magazine.com/dispatches/the-daily/american-children-are-drowning-in-selfesteem

9 replies, 1092 views

Reply to this thread

Back to top Alert abuse

Always highlight: 10 newest replies | Replies posted after I mark a forum
Replies to this discussion thread
Arrow 9 replies Author Time Post
Reply American children are drowning in self-esteem (Economist/1834) (Original post)
eppur_se_muova Thursday OP
CrispyQ Thursday #1
Nitram Thursday #4
kimbutgar Thursday #2
Nitram Thursday #3
Mosby Thursday #5
Nitram Friday #9
BigmanPigman Thursday #6
Collimator Thursday #7
elleng Friday #8

Response to eppur_se_muova (Original post)

Thu Dec 7, 2017, 10:44 AM

1. Interesting article.

A few years back I read an article that stated today's American college education is the equivalent of a 1950's HS education.

Here is an interesting infographic: Is Your State's Highest-Paid Employee A Coach? (Probably)

https://deadspin.com/infographic-is-your-states-highest-paid-employee-a-co-489635228

A pretty sad commentary on our values.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to CrispyQ (Reply #1)

Thu Dec 7, 2017, 02:52 PM

4. Depends on the college and on the major.

You can't pass with a mathematics or science degree at any major college without working hard and studying a lot.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to eppur_se_muova (Original post)

Thu Dec 7, 2017, 11:46 AM

2. I collect these old games where you test your knowledge

One of the games was from the 1950's the questions are really difficult and I doubt many high school graduates of today could answer the questions.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to eppur_se_muova (Original post)

Thu Dec 7, 2017, 02:51 PM

3. If American children are "drowning in self-esteem" then why is the suicide rate so high?

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Nitram (Reply #3)

Thu Dec 7, 2017, 07:06 PM

5. Why the Happiest States Have the Highest Suicide Rates

http://healthland.time.com/2011/04/25/why-the-happiest-states-have-the-highest-suicide-rates/


It's more than just percieved inequality, people in the west often lack support groups:


Mentally ill do better in Third World than in West
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/mentally-ill-do-better-in-third-world-than-in-west-1320282.html

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Mosby (Reply #5)

Fri Dec 8, 2017, 08:05 AM

9. I've lived many years in third world countires, and I'd say the record is spotty at best.

Some cultures, or individual groups provide a warm atmosphere of support for the mentally ill. Others view mental illness as a supernatural phenomenon, which can be either good or very, very bad. When the mentally ill are believed to be in contact with the spirit world for the benefit of the community, that can be a positive thing. When they are viewed as cursed, possessed by evil spirits, or witches, that can be life-threatening.

As for happy states having higher suicide rates, that could very well be due to a culture that demands that everybody present themselves as being happy. such expectation can led to skewed polls showing a higher percentage of happy people than there actually are, and puts great pressure on people with depression who feel unworthy because they know they are deeply unhappy.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to eppur_se_muova (Original post)

Thu Dec 7, 2017, 09:35 PM

6. As an elementary school teacher for over 15 years

I have said that there are two main problems in American schools and society. First, school districts are concerned with money and treat schools like a business using business models and "blueprints". Second, the parents think their children walk on water, are better than any other student and nothing is ever their fault (whether it is doing poorly in class or fighting at recess). Teachers are stuck between a rock and a hard place since we are usually threatened by parents that they will remove their child from their current school and state funds for that child are lost at their school site (MONEY again) if they do not get every single one of their demands met immediately. The administrators support the parents, not the teachers. They want the money. Teachers are threatened constantly by parents. If their little rocket scientist isn't giver a bumper sticker declaring their supreme intelligence they remove their child from your class or school. These same parents treat schools and teachers as glorified baby sitters. Education and educators are not given any respect and this trend has been increasing for over 20 years.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to BigmanPigman (Reply #6)

Thu Dec 7, 2017, 11:18 PM

7. Teachers Deserve A Lot More Support. . .

And so do parents--in the sense that both have tough jobs with so much responsibility.

My view of the situation is that parents and teachers need to "gang up" on the children--not to make them feel small and worthless, but to guide them on their journey in finding their own worth by meeting life's challenges.

The parents that you describe have a certain infantile quality about them. How DARE you criticise MY little Morgan?! Clearly he/she is perfect and the bestest child of all time! This is the same attitude that very young children have about their parents. MY daddy can beat up your daddy and my mommy is the nicest of all the mommies!.

(BTW, this is how Al Franken once described the patriotism of many conservatives--that of a child who cannot accept any criticism of its parents. Liberal patriotism accepts that "Mommy" and the country are not perfect and making changes going forward may be in everyone's best interests.)

Reaching back to the idea that parents and teachers need to present a united front, it should be obvious that any normal kid learns the "Divide and Conquer" strategy early on. This doesn't mean that children are naturally "evil", but they are immature. That's sort of the whole point of childhood. Youngsters want what they want when they want it and grown ups have to teach them the realities of life. Trouble is, that can be hard to do when the parents haven't faced the realities of life.

If I may, I would recommend a book called "Everything But Money" by a man named Sam Levenson. It's old and mostly likely out of print. (Which is why I feel kind of crappy for recommending it.)

Levenson was a teacher turned comedian. He grew up in a large immigrant family about a hundred years ago*, but his description of the change in child-rearing mores from his own youth to that of the 1950's and 1960's WILL resonate for you. I promise.

* Yikes. Just writing that phrase makes me and everything that I have ever learned sound so ancient!

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Collimator (Reply #7)

Fri Dec 8, 2017, 02:28 AM

8. I remember Sam Levenson!

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink

Reply to this thread