The Independent Curriculum Group make no bones about our concern for the well-being and mental health of students, as nearly every day brings us a worrisome story or anecdote about student stress. Much of this appears to be very much a function of anxiety around the complex constellation of academic and social pressures felt by students working to succeed in the educational system we have created. We wonder about it, and what we as educators might do to make schools happier places for children and adults. Perhaps we’re just in alarmist mode, generalizing from specifics, but each time we ask a school person about students in crisis at their school, we get an affirmative response
So we present to you, readers, some difficult, discomfiting questions. You are invited to take these as either rhetorical or substantive (or both), and to frame your responses—not to us, but to yourselves—but in the context of your learning community accordingly.
All learning happens in a context, and in the established world of pre-college education we have planted our collective flag atop the mountain of missions and values (think: the accrediting process). We set out with good hearts to create institutions of teaching and learning built around these at least purportedly idiosyncratic, “mission driven” elements:
Try putting on your skeptic’s (or hardcore realist’s) glasses and taking a look at the full context of learning at your school. It might be well to reserve some time for deep reflection as you ponder these related and very germane issues:
There are of course a host of corollary and shadow (as in, “Why not?”) questions accompanying each of those asked here, but we’ll stop for now.
If you are inclined to explore these questions more deeply, we would point you to these terrific and relevant resources:
Brad Rathgeber (he/him/his)