We are at a cross roads in education.
The Bay Area boasts some of the most innovative companies, highest achieving schools, not to mention some of the most expensive real estate in the world.
But the children are showing disturbing behavior.
In December, The Atlantic’s cover story was titled, “The Silicon Valley Suicides: Why are So Many Kids with Bright Prospects Killing Themselves in Palo Alto?”
Suniya Luthar, professor of psychology at Arizona State University, and whose research is included in the article, found that the rich middle- and high-school kids show higher rates of alcohol and drug abuse on average than poor kids, and much higher rates than the national norm.
They report clinically significant depression or anxiety or delinquent behaviors at a rate two to three times the national average. Luthar found that the “pressure to excel at multiple academic and extracurricular pursuits” was one of the major stressors they experienced.
Madeline Levine, a child psychologist who practices in the Bay Area, and author of The Price of Privilege reported that the adolescents she was encountering would “complain bitterly of being too pressured, misunderstood, anxious, angry, sad, and empty.”
At Stanford University, a team of professors, led by Drs. Denise Pope, Jim Lobdell, and Madeline Levine, have shared some alarming statistics about middle school on their website challengesuccess.org:
• 9- to 13-year-olds said they were more stressed by academics than any other stressor—even bullying or family problems (36% said they were stressed out the most by grades, school, and homework.)
• Middle school students’ perception of their school environment influences their academic and psychological adjustment. Perceived emphasis on competition and differential treatment are related to diminished academic values, low self-esteem, and lower academic achievement as well as increases in truancy, anger, and depressive symptoms. Perceived positive teacher regard and emphasis on effort and improvement
are associated with increased academic values, academic competence, and academic achievement as well as decreased depressive symptoms, anger, and truancy and increases in self-esteem over time.
We Can Do More. We Can Do Better
“Middle school is where so much of the negative momentum builds for kids,” said Kara Riordan, Head of School for Mulberry. “Suddenly, they find themselves adrift as they wander from one class to the next, lost in a sea of kids, feeling tremendous pressure to perform. Mulberry has a track record for letting kids be kids, and teaching them at an age-appropriate level while maintaining academic rigor. Our Middle School will extend this philosophy, and will help nurture a new generation of middle schoolers who are better prepared for high school, college, and life.”
Mulberry School is dedicated to teaching children how to have a full life by acknowledging their full personhood that includes engaging their innate curiosity, imagination, and desire to make the world a better place.
Riordan added, “Meeting and nurturing children where they are, and giving them the space and time to come into their own, is pivotal in helping them live a full and meaningful life. Knowledge without purpose is meaningless. At Mulberry, we strive to honor both the academic and social/emotional needs of each student individually.”
Mulberry School is located at 220 Belgatos Dr., Los Gatos 95032. For more information on how to apply, contact Deanna Haugaard at firstname.lastname@example.org. Mulberry’s next Open House is February 6th 10am-1pm.