Thursday, December 3, 2015
Why Is It Important To You For Your Teen To Get Good Grades?
This is a really good question for you to ask yourselves. Because often it is more important to parents than it is to your kids. Is it because you know that they CAN get good grades, and therefore they should? Is it because you were an exceptional student, and a strong academic record is something that you value in yourself and therefore want to see in your kids? Is it because it's nice to be able to say out loud and to the people you know; " My kid is an all-honor student." Is it because you know that the key to a successful life is going to an elite college, and to do that your teen needs to be an exceptional student. Or is it because this is a real goal your teen has stated is important to him/her and not just to please you. These are all very important questions to answer, especially the last one.
Below is an in-depth article in The Atlantic Magazine about the culture of academic excellence at two Palo Alto High Schools that may have inpacted cluster suicides of their high school students. As you might imagine this has thrown this community into overdrive to seek answers to why these teens wanted to die. One of the main premises is that the stress of the community and parents for academic excellence has thrown their teens into high anxiety, depression and hopelessness for their constant need to keep up the competitive edge to make it into the good schools and to have a successful life. My take is that this stress does and can affect students greatly, but that suicide is an extreme reaction for a teen who most likely had many other contributing factors for making this decision. It is a big leap to say that academic stress=suicide.
However I have spent a lot of time reading this article and the comments that hundreds of students wrote in reaction to this article. And what is clear to me is that learning and the curiosity for knowledge, for knowledge sake is missing from many teens lives. The excitement your 3rd grader felt from studying about birds and then going out into your yard beaming from his/hers' ability to label and understand what it meant for this bird to be living in your yard has all but disappeared. That makes me sad. If your teen truly loves calculus and is turned on by equations and loves the challenge of problem sets, then by all means this kid belongs in honors calculus. But if your teen just happens to have an aptitude for math, but takes absolutely no joy in it at all, will never use it again in his/her life, and is just doing it to get into a good college....... well I think you know what I would say to that!
School is obviously so important, and having high expectations for your children is reasonable if they are capable of meeting them. But life is about balance. Is your teen overwhelmed with the need for perfection in school, on the field, on stage, in your home? Is there a recognition of who and what turns this kid on? And most importantly, are there realistic expectations in place so that your teen has a seat at the table to say what it is that is or is not important to him/her?
Many kids blossom when they get to college. They take random courses and find out about passions and interests they never knew they had. They don't have to know-it-all in high school!!! Many many people who are successful in life are not the kids who were the all A students, just look at me, I was a pretty solid C, and I'm pretty damn happy with my life!