I am a licensed psychologist and worked 33 years with the Philadelphia School District, 22 years in the Research and Evaluation Office and 11 years as a school counselor. I authored Changes: A self-help book for adolescents and co-authored Energy Tapping: How to rapidly eliminate anxiety, depression, cravings and more using energy psychology. I have written journal articles and papers examining emotional problems and learning.
America used to lead the world in education and innovation, but today we are leaders in anger, depression and greed. Bully behavior is prevalent among adults and is often accepted, as it is associated with power. America’s self-destructive behaviors have been well documented and are increasing, as our youth struggle with depression, anger control, substance abuse and eating disorders. These problems affect everyone, not just the urban poor. The resolution of these problems has been left to families and overall it has not been successful. These problems continue into adulthood, as our obesity problems demonstrate. Instead of focusing on the resolution of problems that impact learning, school leaders have continued to spend their time and resources on strategies that have not made the differences needed; an example of this is excessive testing.
Why our schools are the answer:
The reality for many large urban schools is that well over 50% of their students manifest significant learning, behavior, and emotional problems. Another study found that half of all mental illness occurs before the age of 14, and 75 percent by the age of 24, noting the urgent need to develop programs to address this issue. While suburban and rural populations struggle to deal with addiction problems, depression and suicide. Seventy percent of adolescents think that anxiety, depression and bullying are among their main concerns. Perhaps if we can help students resolve their problems, then learning problems can also be addressed.
The Opinion section (www.inquirer.com) in the Philadelphia Inquirer, The race to fix schools has ignored emotional learning (06/21/2019) is the cornerstone of this blog and while it focused mostly on Philadelphia, the same situations are happening all over the country.
Testing and test scores in low achieving populations are being misused. The obsessive need to improve student test scores must stop, it places too much pressure on Superintendents to create a quick fix and in the process mislead the public. This also prevents other ideas and programs from being developed to help students.
Emotional and behavioral problems are a growing concern nationally and have been impacting our country and student learning.
Skills from research proven approaches such as mindful meditation and cognitive behavioral therapy can be taught to students. Those skills can help students learn to better cope with problems.
Educators, mental health professionals and politicians must work together to create programs that will help students become healthier.
The first 4 posts focused on why we have so many problems:
Why America is struggling.
Thoughts about our divided country.
Understanding our problems.
Why we as a society are so angry?
Future posts will explore problems and how we can work together to create a healthy America.