This morning, I read a brief, but fascinating article, about the impact of stress on mice pups. Psychologist, Alison Gopnik, in her Mind and Matter series, summarized two recent studies on the development of mice.
In the first study, researchers discovered that mice (like humans) struggled with problem solving tasks as they entered adolescence. In a second study, researchers learned that mice who faced early stress (separation from their mother) developed more quickly than mice who were kept with their mothers. The rapid development and rush to adolescence accelerated the loss of problem solving skills.
The stressed mice also demonstrated another troubling behavior. The mice with accelerated, stress induced development, drank more ethanol—developing what Gopnik described as the “mouse equivalent to alcoholism.”
What can we learn from these studies? We know stress is harmful. How are we (the adults) contributing to the stress of our pre-adolescent students? Are we overscheduling ourselves and our students—too much homework and too many activities? Are we managing our own stress or creating stress filled homes, workplaces, and classrooms?
I am not arguing that students should always be comfortable or that we should create a stress free utopia. But, we need to become more aware and better manage our own stress levels and the stress levels of our students.
We want students to feel safe, secure, and take their time growing up. What’s the hurry? Do you really want your child to fast-track to an adult mindset? Or your middle schooler rushing to act like a senior?
Thank you for sending your child to the best private school (in my opinion) in Kansas City!