The Dail na nÓg, Ireland’s youth parliament, chose in their 2017 meeting of 200+ delegates to focus on inequalities in school. The report on the survey that came out of this meeting is very telling about what needs to change in the Irish school system.
And read the Dail na nÓg 2017 Delegate Report
A notable finding of this survey was that girls report more negative experiences of school than boys do, which is why Girls need Sudbury too
Peter Gray is an American psychologist and educational researcher. He is the author of numerous articles and several books including “Freedom to learn”.
The following is a study into the lives, study paths and careers of young adults who had been unschooled, homeschooled or been to Sudbury Valley school.
“It is crucial that it is recognised that the current system of measuring pupils’ attainment and using this to judge schools and teachers is deeply damaging to children and young people, and does not foster the skills and talents that are needed in higher education or in employment, or the attributes that will be valued in future citizens.”
Research commissioned by the National Union of Teachers
The level of connectedness and enthusiasm children feel in school can impact mental health and substance abuse into adulthood. School connectedness is second in importance, after family connectedness, as a protective factor against emotional distress, disordered eating, and suicidal ideation and attempts.
Michael Strong poses the question:
Did you know that 40% to 60% of kids are chronically disengaged from school? Studies show that social and emotional learning is just as important as cognitive learning for students’ development. School should be about values, not just getting a job.
Jenny Anderson explores this subject:
Rates of depression and anxiety among young people in America have been increasing steadily for the past 50 to 70 years. Today, by at least some estimates, five to eight times as many high school and college students meet the criteria for diagnosis of major depression and/or anxiety disorder as was true half a century or more ago. This increased psychopathology is not the result of changed diagnostic criteria; it holds even when the measures and criteria are constant.
Peter Gray explains that rising rates of mental health issues among child, adolescents and young adults are linked to young people’s declining feelings of control over their own lives. This decline is driven by the growing emphasis on extrinsic over intrinsic values.
There was a study comparing autocratic, democratic and laissez-faire learning environments conducted by Lewin, Lippitt and White in 1939. The researchers organised multiple groups of five ten-year-old boys to meet in an after-school club. The club activities were led in either authoritarian style where the adult leader made and imposed all decisions, democratic style where the adult leader and the boys made decisions together with equal input, or laissez-faire style where the adult leader had minimal input. The researchers found that the autocratic leadership style generated two distinct reactions: aggression and apathy. Furthermore, the boys in the autocratic groups did not take prideful ownership over their creations, and the creations became “objects of aggressive attack” onto which the boys projected their feelings of frustration. In contrast, it was evident that the boys in the democratic group took pride in their work, and interviews revealed that the boys overwhelmingly preferred the democratic leaders to the autocratic leaders. The laissez-faire group was the most aggressive of the three.
Lewin, K., Lippit, R., White, R.K. (1939) ‘Patterns of aggressive behaviour in experimentally created social climates’. Journal of Social Psychology 10, 271-301