It’s a real thing, burn-out in children. Most of you might have read about a recent Facebook post in which a mother tells how she as told her daughter’s school that her girl is done with doing homework. It went viral.
She explains in it how her daughter has started waking up in the middle of the night with chest pain and being totally stressed out. Not a good thing.
I remember how homework used to be part of my school journey. Did we like it? Not at all. Did we do it? Yes, sure. This is not one of those “we did it too and survived so toughen up, princess” post. I actually believe times are very different and I totally see why kids start reaching a close to burn-out moment.
I find it funny that the hype around this post and an interview with a well know pediatrician whose child development books are part of the curriculum when you study Psychology in Switzerland. Remo Largo just recently has released a new book which this time is not about children but about adults. And yet it has so much to do with our childhood too.
In his interview he explains how his book and his understanding of adults has a lot to do with the things he learned about the development of children. How they develop their motor skills, speech, or the understanding of numbers and maths and how it all starts playing together to then after 20 years form the adult. In his book he describes how humans can only be truly happy if we we can live our lives according to our needs. He describes how things need to match up, that our needs and our capabilities have to meet ends in order for us to life our live to the fullest. So because we are all individuals with our own needs and our own capabilities our perfect life is unique. It’s a principle that seems to make so much sense.
And yet, although it makes sense, it’s not how most of us live our life.
While he goes into details and examples, especially about how the capability of reading, I want to cut this short. What stands out for me is that he says we live in an anonymous society, do our job and hope that we will find satisfaction by being able to spend money and consume products after products. He thinks that we have to rethink the way our society works and that an ideal society is built on people who can live their individuality. As we run project after project in our society we are completely controlled from the outside. Which leads to the point where we lose the ability to actually fall back on our own experiences and decide with them as a background on future actions. We lose our experiences because they are no longer ours. We do what others want us to do. In a way we are just simply puppets.
While burn-out has been known to affect mainly top managers and people who were older, over the last years the average in age dropped massively and burn-out syndromes now affect young people and also children just as much as top managers. People can simply no longer cope with trying to make ends meet that are not their ends.
Largo explains that we suffer the most under the fact that our needs for security and recognition but also for our development are no longer met. His statement that we need to find back to the interaction across multiple generation, just the way it used to be.
And then he makes a statement that I feel is huge:
“More and more children leave school not feeling confident. They actually feel like a failure and don’t believe that they can manifest themselves in our society…”
For Largo it’s all about finding the responsibility for each other, the familiarity again. Children would feel responsible and also familiar with elderly and vice versa. It’s about making people of all age feel comfortable with each other and emotionally looked after. In an environment like this people could thrive again. They could finally live their individuality confidently. It’s important to acknowledge our basic needs again.
He brings up that more and more we have to deal with people who struggle to integrate, adults and children. And he claims that the lack of feeling looked after often leads to misbehavior and issues. To difficult children and adults.
What he thinks is crucial is that we find a school system that allows children to feel accepted and gives them the confidence to be able to survive in our society. To thrive. And he criticizes the system that is in place in most schools: Learning by heart and mountains of homework. An ideal school would cater for the individuality of the children involved rather than pushing them all into the same shape. Largo, who has spent decades in researching child development then claims that children learn best if they feel accepted by their teachers and other students and can then learn in their own pace and way.
“Most educational systems are nothing else but planned economy, which sets requirements on the top and then pushes it through all the way down. Without consideration of individuals.”
So there is a curriculum that was decided on and then a control system will be put in place in order to keep students, teachers and also schools in check.
I guess we all know what he is saying there. And I sort of agree. It’s something that often comes up when I talk to other mothers about their schools. So often they claim that the individuality of their child is not considered. That the plan after which the school teaches is not in favor of their child. And yet we all accept the system. Because it’s been done forever and it’s what life is all about because we are actually going through the same thing as adults as well.
He continues that children end up being socially more competent if they learn individually and on their terms and how to deal with other children again on their terms. And they also develop a huge confidence because if they learn on their terms in their pace they also gain confidence to be able to control things. Which will then benefit them for their entire life.
I’ve read many books of Remo Largo. While he sometimes goes a bit far for my liking, he actually has some valid points, which he brings up in the mentioned interview. I wish you could read the entire thing in English somewhere as it is really thought provoking.
From a homeschooling perspective, which is the only perspective I have as a mother I have to say that watching my children learn the way they do makes me believe that they do develop their individuality. To find back to the post I have mentioned in the beginning I do think that many school systems are so far off. I have mentioned it before and say it again: We rob our children of the time they have. While I had my school days and homework to do too back in the days, there was much more freedom to it too. They days didn’t seem so long and the load of homework is far from what you see here.
Burn-our in children is real and it has nothing to do with playing on devices but rather with all the pressure they have and clearly can’t deal with. I think that the balance is lost between managing to create a highly potential society and putting too much pressure on the future generation.
But once again, this is just one of my opinions (and Remo Largo’s) so who knows how much it counts…