Your child's creativity and it's GPA.
Counseling centers at universities and colleges have been overflowing with emergency call.s At one university it was stated that over the past 5 years emergency calls to the Counseling center had doubled. Students are increasingly seeking help not just regarding issues like depression and anxiety, but regarding on the surface banal problems that seem to occur in everyday life. An example was a person who felt traumatized because a roommate called her the B-word. Or a student who called the counseling center because he saw a mouse. Or even getting a B or a C can activate a student to call a therapist, as it is considered often as 'failure' are a reason to call the counseling center. This current trend seems to indicate a decline in resilience among young adults. Colleges are struggling. Traditionally their mission was to busy themselves with higher education, but the lack of resilience to address typical problems seems to demand that the university and professors also take on the role of substitute parents. They wonder how much hand holding has to be done.
Peter Gray, the author of Free to Learn connects this decline in resilience with the dramatic decline in children's opportunities to play, explore, and pursue their own interests away from adults. Among the consequences he states are well-documented increases in anxiety and depression, and decreases in the sense of control of their own lives. This generation of children has not been given the opportunity to get into trouble, make mistakes and solve them. Gray thinks that 'helicopter parenting' is at the core of the problem, but he makes clear to say that it is not the parents who are to blame. We are living in a 'helicopter society.' He states that if we want to counter these social forces, we have to give the children the freedom and practice to take responsibility for themselves. In the current society, children and parents alike are victims of the increased power of the school system and a schooling mentality that says that kids develop best when carefully guided and supervised by adults.
We could see in everyday life and my practice with children and their parents that this plays out in the attitude towards grades. Often anything under an A is considered inadequate. The focus on GPA becomes so central, as it is taken as the indication of future success or failure. What controlled research studies are currently discovering is that there is either no correlation, or even an inverse relation between GPA and Innovative orientation or creativity. A study at NYU found that there was an inverse relation between students' reported GPA and their orientation towards creative or innovative work. One of the possible explanations was that possibly students with propensities toward innovation are less concerned with grading systems that rely on memorization. Or, college going students with innovation intentions may be more likely to approach their education as a means to discover new ideas, wanting more out of the experience than a series of external valuations.
So, in today's helicopter society it is harder for students to build upon their natural curiosity and creativity. As parents, it might be our task to not fall in the helicopter trap, and leave the door open for growth towards independence, and leave room for creative exploring of interests, rather than focus too strictly on GPA.
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