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Thursday, June 23, 2005



I think you can take this further. Let's face it most students are average (that is what average means afterall) and placing them in an environment where they are expected to excel can be very stressful for them. Ultimately all that you generate is disfunctional teenagers disengage from the whole process because "you cannot fail if you do not compete".

We have to assess what it means to succeed. If it means stress, unhappiness and an "unnatural" developmental environment then it is clearly not in the best interest of the student. Recently research into the comparative performance at University in Australia between those coming from the "elite" private schools and those coming from the state system has shown that a large percentage of those from the elite private schools flounder at University in what could be called an "early life crisis".

They have been taught that all that mattered was getting into University but once they are there they have time to ask "why" and they don't know the answer. Compare this to those from the state school system for whom the full spectrum of adolescent opportunities are available. The ones at uni are happy because they made a choice to be there, just as the ones who chose to get a job or took at trade are happy because they made that choice.

Elite schools are great at producing very successful, very unhappy people. It is not what I wanted for my son.

Lisa Williams

I was really interested in a study I saw that tried to explain why many children of immigrants from China and India excel in school. One thing the parents had in common was an idea that for most kids, all that's required to do well in school is to work hard. It's not about being "smart" which here we think of as something you're born with. Well, what if you're not considered "the smart one" in your family stereotyping? Then you don't bother to try. And the consequences aren't great for "the smart one" either because they come to believe that their outcomes in life aren't under their own control.

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