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One Reason Your Teen Might be Miserable

Pumpkins in the fall bring on the anxiety over schoolPretty much as soon as the pumpkin decorations show up on the shelves, folks start asking for help with their kids in high school. School has barely started and the problems have already begun. The parenting teens groups on Facebook fill up with posts from frustrated parents looking for advice, solutions.

What’s heartbreaking is to see so many frustrated parents recommend  punishment, restrictions, grounding, and taking things away. In my experience, I have rarely seen where any of this helps. Usually, it all just escalates the tension and further alienates the teen.

Let’s consider for a moment your child isn’t actually the problem. They aren’t lazy. They aren’t dumb. And they certainly aren’t doing any of this to punish you. They are quite simply miserable. Unfortunately, misery loves company. It is human nature to bring it home to unleash it in the safe environment.

High stakes testing is a common cause of anxietyInstead of punishing the child, perhaps we should turn our attention to high school – the real problem here. For about 20% of the kids – it’s awesome — they actually learn and thrive in this system. For other 80% of the kids, it sucks, and for a whole list of reasons.

At it’s core, this system is fraught with problems and the subject of some serious debates on how to fix it. Personally, I don’t think we need a reform, I feel like we need a revolution. To understand the underlying issues, we should consider the origins of school. This is a system conceived in the economies of the Industrial Revolution with the ideas of intelligence developed during Enlightenment. It’s a system of conformity—kids pushed through in batches by age, taught the same thing, at the same times. Standardized tests were developed prove the efficacy of the system with so much emphasis and focus now put on these tests that “learning” has been diminished to memorizing the test information. It is a production line system with controls and bells, and the whole broken into separate bits (subjects) that are taught in separate rooms. Adding to these atrocities is the sad fact that the system was built on the idea of social class at the time—that working kids weren’t smart enough to go to college. The “poor” kids were pushed towards the trades while the more affluent were encouraged to work towards college. This practice continued until fairly recently, when the powers that be realized how wrong that was and completely flipped the programming. Trades were pulled from school and everyone was pushed towards college. Except, of course, in the poorest of schools.  The insanity and conformity of this system is wreaking havoc on our children.

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