A new study by the Harvard Graduate School of Education notes that children say their parents give a higher regard to grades, academic achievement, and their kids’ happiness than to kindness and good manners. The survey of 10,000 school children reveals that eighty percent of them share this view. Today Parents reports:
Students said that achievement was the most important value and thought their peers would agree. More importantly, students reported that their parents appreciated achievement much more than happiness or kindness. They were three times as likely to agree with the statement “My parents are prouder if I get good grades in my classes than if I’m a caring community member.”
This means kids think much less about being nice than they do about getting an A on a test, winning a swim meet, or being best camper. Yet, all this focus on accomplishment doesn’t lead to content kids.
“The achievement pressure can have a bunch of negative results,” says (study conductor Rick) Weissbourd. “I’m concerned that it makes kids less happy.”
Weissbourd says living up to this standard causes stress and depression and can lead to bad behaviors, such as cheating. Studies have found that 50 percent of students admit to cheating and 75 percent say they have copied someone else’s homework, possibly in an attempt to live up to expectations.
It’s easy enough to imagine school teachers nodding their collective heads at this study due to the seemingly obvious connections to student disrespect, apathy, and bullying.