According to this KQED piece, in an effort to move the focus away from relentless achievement alone, some high schools, including one in the notoriously driven Silicon Valley, are implementing advisory programs where small groups of students meet with an adult mentor (often a teacher) to help students foster good relationships and find a sense of purpose in their lives.
As the article says,
“Many high school students go through four years of school doing exactly what they are told to do. The work often feels divorced from the real world — a prescriptive set of ‘shoulds’ that adults say will lead to a happy life. But for many students, the end goal of all that work — college or a career — is a hazy future, not a tangible one.”
I think the programs sound fantastic and would love to see them gain popularity. But I couldn’t help but think that these lessons really need to be taught at home.
Parents, if you were to tally the amount of time you spend talking with your kids about all-things-college-admissions—grades, test scores, achievement, tutors, admissions advantages, etc.—and compare that total to how much time you spend talking with them about what they’re thinking, how they’re feeling, what’s happening in their lives, what they want for themselves, etc.—which area of discussion is dominating your time?
Many parents will point out that teens aren’t inclined to just pour their souls out to their parents. Fair point. But you’re the adult, and you’re their parent. You’re setting the tone for what’s really important by what you choose to focus on and talk about, whether or not they respond immediately.
Many schools just don’t have the resources to allocate to programs like this, and even more teachers have a hard enough job without also assigning them responsibility to teach our kids what’s really important in life. I wish both of those observations weren’t true, and I think it’s long past time for a bigger discussion about what schools should actually be responsible for and how we can better support teachers to actually make the impact they desperately want to make. But whether or not administrators bring this kind of change to your school system, as parents, you can make fast and lasting changes in your home school.