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robertogreco : overscheduling   4

The dark side of Silicon Valley, according to a teen who grew up there - Business Insider
"Home of the brightest engineers, the coolest new technology, and the highest salaries in the world, Silicon Valley is also home of the most cutthroat competitive high schools.

Let's take a look at the schools with the highest SAT scores in the nation. Unsurprisingly, 6 of the top 20 are located in Silicon Valley: Monta Vista (#15), Mission San Jose (#18), Lynbrook (#7), Gunn (#12), Leland (#20), and Harker (#2).

In many of these schools, getting a 3.5 GPA could put you in the bottom half of the class (especially at academic powerhouses Gunn, Monta Vista, and Harker).

In other schools, athletics play a bigger role in the culture, but success is still expected nonetheless (Bellarmine, Los Gatos, Mitty). Also, it's a given that the student body is not only talented, but also well accomplished in many different areas.

It's unbelievable when you see the sheer numbers these schools put out. Harker has had 173 people admitted to Berkeley in the past 3 years. In just 2015, Harker had a 43% acceptance rate to Berkeley (69 admitted out of 162 who applied).

For the No. 1 public university in the world, those are some crazy numbers. Not to be out-matched, Mission San Jose High boasted a 29% acceptance rate to Berkeley in 2015, with 93 admitted. I understand admission to Berkeley isn't the best metric to judge competitiveness/success, but it shows a small part of the bigger picture.

Evergreen Valley, my home school, is considered one of the middle-tier competitive schools, but it's slowly becoming a microcosm of the Palo Alto/Cupertino areas. It's reflected in our college admissions.

This year alone, we have 32 students going to Berkeley and 4 going to Stanford. Now, it's great and all that we're succeeding in the college admissions game, but at what cost?

The bottom line is that behind these stellar numbers and phenomenal extracurricular activities lies a culture of overwork and incessant competition. There no longer exists a free summer for high school kids.

Everyone is competing — who can get the best internship? Who can pack their schedule the most? Who can get admitted to the best, most prestigious summer programs? Even in school, everyone is competing — who can work the hardest? Who can sleep the least and still get straight A's? Who can do it all? Who can be a part of the most clubs?

Going through it, it always seemed like a giant race to nowhere. There are a few features that distinguish Silicon Valley high schools:

1. Fear of failure

This sounds counterintuitive. I mean, we live in the freaking Silicon Valley, right? Home of entrepreneurship, risks, and solving the world's problems, right?

No, not really — high school isn't like that. We stick to what we know best. You play the piano really well? Keep doing that. You dance well? Stick to it.

Don't try other things — didn't you know you have to commit to an activity in order to put it on your college app? Why try new things and fail when you can stick to what you've been doing, work hard, and accomplish great things? Because, after all, isn't the point of life to get into college?

2. Stifling competition

We're ambitious and we're talented and we're hardworking — no doubt about it. We start companies and publish books and become nationally ranked in every extracurricular activity possible while juggling a 4.0 GPA. But with all of it comes a price.

By most of society here, you are judged by your numbers. I've lost track of the number of times I've heard parents ask about my SAT score and where I'm going to college, and then change their perception of me because of it. I want to tell them that these superficial things don't define me — that I'm more than these arbitrary numbers and test scores.

3. Ridiculous over-scheduling

You'll see kids with schedules more packed than an exec in the corporate world. After school, go to sports practice for 2-3 hours. After sports practice, practice your instrument for 1-2 hours. Now, it's time for dinner.

Eat for an hour, do homework for an hour, and then sleep at 9 p.m.? Not really. Not when you have five AP courses that each assign Herculean loads of homework. Not when you're managing several clubs and organizations. Not when you're also involved in student government.

Where's the time to relax? Where's the time to enjoy? We're bogged down in this mindset that happiness is to be postponed.

It's this mentality that says "I'll work hard now, so that I can enjoy my life later. It's OK if I don't enjoy now because it'll get better." But when does it end? Caught in this vicious cycle, it's hard to see what makes life worth it.

The only thing I want to say to the Silicon Valley teens out there is to enjoy your time. Be ambitious, be hardworking, be everything you've wanted to be and more — but don't forget to stop and smell the flowers. After all, what's life without enjoyment?"
siliconvalley  schools  competition  education  harker  children  parenting  kalvinlam  overscheduling  failure  colleges  universities  admissions  via:jolinaclément  sanjose  losgatos  paloalto 
august 2016 by robertogreco
Where The Wild Things Play : NPR Ed : NPR
"There are only a handful of these "wild playgrounds" in the country. They embrace the theory that free, unstructured play is vital for children and offer an antidote to the hurried lifestyles, digital distractions and overprotective parents that can leave children few opportunities to really cut loose.

"It's really central that kids are able to take their natural and intense play impulses and act on them," says Dr. Stuart Brown, a psychologist and the founding director of the National Institute for Play.

Children need an environment with "the opportunity to engage in open, free play where they're allowed to self-organize," he adds. "It's really a central part of being human and developing into competent adulthood."

Brown says this kind of free-range fun is not just good; it's essential. Wild play helps shape who we become, he says, and it should be embraced, not feared.

Some educators advocate "dangerous play," which they say helps kids become better problem solvers.

Patty's Place

In Europe there are lots of these kinds of free-range public playgrounds. They flourished after World War II. Europeans more readily embraced spaces for children to engage in what developmental psychologists like to call "managed risk."

But in the U.S. today there are barely a half-dozen. There are the Anarchy Zone in Ithaca, N.Y., which is just two years old, and a handful of others including a few in New York City.

This one in Berkeley is run by the city's parks and recreation department. It's funded largely by docking fees from the adjacent marina.

But, in many ways, this is Patty's place. "I've been involved here at the adventure playground since its inception — about 35 years," says Patty Donald, the playground's longtime coordinator.

Donald has been on a crusade to promote kid-driven, hands-on play. "A lot of people learn by touching and feeling and doing, and they excel that way," she says. "People drive two, three hours to come here."

Five staff members handle everything from replenishing the zip line's dirt landing zone to facilitating wood-painting and other play activities.

They keep a careful — yet mostly distant — eye on the children and what they're doing. If kids turn in wood with splinters or with a nail sticking out — called a "Mr. Dangerous" — they can earn paint and tools.

"You got it! Yay, Aly!" one staffer yells to a young girl as she makes her way across an old surfboard precariously balanced on a barrel.

The Cellphone Problem

So ... why are there so few of these wild playgrounds in the U.S.?

Fear of litigation is certainly an issue. But there are other factors, too, experts say. Among them are safety-obsessed, overprotective parents shepherding hyperscheduled children, and the fact that in America's cities and suburbs, play itself is in decline.

Donald worries that today's kids are controlled, coddled — and overscheduled. And some parents, she says, are often too distracted. "I find there are a lot of adults who don't know how to play with their kids."

Wait a minute, I ask: What do you mean there are parents who don't know how to play with their kids? I'm imagining awkward, distracted parents, fiddling with their iPhones because they don't get that they can actually interact with their children.

"Probably 75 percent of the parents that come in do that," Donald says. "The cellphone probably is the biggest problem we have. The parents are standing here, they're physically here."

But ... they're not really present, she says.

'Like A Pillow'

"This is awesome; this is a neat little place," says Dave Davirro. He and his 11-year-old son, Nicholas, are in from Hawaii visiting relatives in California.

He says kids need more places like this. "They're tearing down swings in my city," because they're dangerous, Davirro says. "We're way overprotective. I want my child to experience that, you know, there is some danger in everything.""
play  playgrounds  children  2014  adventureplaygrounds  wildplaygrounds  problemsolving  overscheduling  parenting 
august 2014 by robertogreco
New York Times - What's the Matter With College?
"College as America used to understand it is coming to an end" college used to be an escape from small towns, now they are small towns to escape...great insight from student Hamilon Morris (son of Errol)
colleges  universities  change  gamechanging  future  genx  reform  internet  education  society  schools  generationx  peers  organizationkids  davidbrooks  overscheduling  campusculture  culture  history  sixties  60s  errolmorris  money  economics  activism  generations 
october 2007 by robertogreco
Can a Lack of Sleep Set Back Your Child's Cognitive Abilities? -- New York Magazine
"Overstimulated, overscheduled kids are getting at least an hour’s less sleep than they need, a deficiency that, new research reveals, has the power to set their cognitive abilities back years."
children  cognition  learning  sleep  teens  emotions  attitude  overscheduling  education  health  mind  psychology  research  lifehacks  happiness  creativity  youth  brain  science  kids  parenting  lifestyle  society  homeschool  cognitive  obesity  depression  moods  memory  dreams 
october 2007 by robertogreco

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