1) KIPP is a well lauded charter school program that my company used to do some pro bono work for, so I did some volunteer work on the side. Iremember distinctly feeling exactly like author as these kids explained their schedules: work work work work work. What are they looking forward to in the summer? work work work. These are elementary school kids! Yes you can argue that they’re already disadvantaged enough and have to catch up… but still it’s… catch up to what? If privileged kids are running 100mph, are we saying underprivileged kids have to run 300mph?
2) I am personally a big fan of the unschooling movement. For many reasons, but at least partially because many in the movement are not trying to squish kids into a pinnacle, single definition of intelligence (good school, good job, etc… makes you wonder also how this correlates with a single definition of success). You see everywhere this notion… hire smarter than you, push your kids to be smarter than you. But statistically, if we believe intelligence (the quantified, grade based kind) lies on a normal curve, that’s just not possible. And pushing people toward that end will inevitably lead to a lot of chafing.
3) Relating to above, at my last company the partners often hosted stuff at their houses. You meet lots of the kids of these partners. I can’t imagine that level of pressure. But then you meet kids of these partners who actually didn’t end up going to a brand name school. And I’m embarrassed to say the prevailing thought was, “wow, what happened?”
4) Beyond the “blade being sharpened” by where you live, there are many other environmental factors that add to the stress. Basically, this is why Asian Americans have higher suicide rates than any other racial/ ethnic group.
Also, I really liked the anorexia analogy!