We have had some different book clubs operating in our District over the last several years. Most notably, outgoing Superintendent Geoff Jopson has often referenced and shared ideas that come out of Jim Collins’ Good to Great.
This year we have bought a book for all our administrators in the district, as well as for school Parent Advisory Council Chairs and District Parent Advisory Council Reps. Based on a recommendation of a Rockridge Secondary School counsellor and the school’s principal Marne Owen, we are all reading The Price of Privilege by Madeline Levine. The 2006 book explores how “numerous studies have shown that bright, charming, seemingly confident and socially skilled teenagers from affluent, loving families are experiencing epidemic rates of depression, substance abuse and anxiety disorders.”
There is plenty to discuss from the book, including:
It is easy to see how always tying shoelaces for a toddler would be impairing her autonomy. No parent wants to still be tying shoelaces for a 10-year-old. The rationale behind “staying out of it” is less clear with the teenager (often the stakes seem higher — academics, peer choices, drugs, sex), and parents are far more likely to chime in: “You can talk to your friend after the test. It’s important to keep up your grades.” The fact that the stakes are higher is all the more reason to provide teenagers with as many opportunities as possible to make their own decisions and learn from the consequences. Just as it was critical for the toddler to fumble with her shoelaces before mastering the art of shoelace tying, so is it critical for the adolescent to fumble with difficult tasks and choices in order to master the art of making independent, healthy, moral decisions that can be called upon in the absence of parents’ directives. We all want our children to put their best foot forward. But in childhood and adolescence, sometimes the best foot is the one that is stumbled on, providing an opportunity for the child to learn how to regain balance, and right himself.
It will be interesting to see how the book connects with the schools and parents in West Vancouver. At first glance Levine’s work seems to be built on a community not dissimilar to ours.
It is a powerful read full of lots of practical advice. Hopefully the book will lead to some important conversations in our district.