The title of this blog is the same as the title of the first chapter of Goldie Hawn’s new book, which has been reviewed in depth by us in two previous blogs. Normally we wouldn’t spend so much time on or give so much space to any individual publication, but this particular book is so well written and so much embodies the concerns and beliefs of 3Di that it would be negligent if we failed to highlight it to the degree we have.
This first chapter begins with a great quote from Frank Zappa – “The mind is like a parachute – it works only when it’s open.” How many closed-minded people do we come across in the world of education – people whose only real concern is with the results of tests and exams?
The first section of this first chapter is called ‘Losing Joy’. This is SO important. How many of those closed-minded people care absolutely nothing about joy in the lives of children?
This chapter sets out the alarming facts about how our children are losing happiness . . . It shows that these are desperate times for which we need an urgent call to action.
According to UNICEF, the children of the United Kingdom are the least happy children in the world, followed by the United States, a fact that should shake every one of us to the core.
ARE YOU, DEAR READER, FEELING SHAKEN TO THE CORE?
How can it be that two of the most affluent countries in the world should have such a dismal record when it comes to being happy? Happiness is not a frivolous notion; it is a serious business.
Every one of us has a right to be happy and to feel contentment and well-being. Making the intention to find our happiness even in turmoil is the first step to rediscovering it. Sadly, there are more worrying statistics that support some very uncomfortable truths.
Emotional challenges: As many as 8 percent of our children are believed to have emotional problems. 6 to 9 million American children have a diagnosable mental disorder that impairs daily functioning.
SIX TO NINE MILLION!
By their teens as many as 20 percent are suffering from problems such as ADHD.
Depression: About 4 percent of children between the ages of four and sixteen are affected by depression.
Use and abuse of pharmaceuticals: There has been a 68 percent increase in their use to treat emotional disorders in girls (30 percent in boys) in the past decade.
Poor academic performance: Fifteen year olds in the UK place 25th in the global ranking of student performance on reading, 28th in mathematical literacy, and 16th in scientific ability, according to the International Student Assessment (PISA) in 2010.
Dropout rates: 48 percent of children do not graduate high school in America’s 50 largest cities.
Suicide: This has quadrupled since the 1950s. It is now the third leading cause of death in young adults aged 15 to 24, outnumbering homicides three to two.
Diminishing happiness: As many as 60 percent of our children feel chronically disengaged from school. In one U.S. study, 61 percent of 9 and 10 year olds agreed with the statement “I am happy with life.” By the age of 12 only 36 percent made the same claim.
. . .
Many of the children who are most at risk are those without a syndrome or a label .their suffering is either unseen or unattended to, and they need help. Affluent children, in particular, are in trouble. They are either micromanaged to within an inch of their day or showered with material goods tomake up for physical or emotional absence. This can lead to a sense of feeling misunderstood and empty. These children sometimes describe themselves as “bored and boring.” Lacking resilience, they feel unable to cope with even minor setbacks. Without enthusiasm, they become apathetic. These children just go through the motions. Many end up self-medicating with alcohol or drugs to get through the day. They have been labeled “the lost generation of neglect”.
Substance abuse and adolescent emotional problems, far from being inner-city issues of the poor and under-served, are found to be highest in suburban affluent groups, especially among girls.
It is natural for us to have high hopes for our children’s well-being and happiness, but we must be careful not to fixate on what’s wrong about them more than what’s right about them. Sometimes we do fixate on their test scores; however, some children do not test well – they can be very smart, very creative, and yet have very poor test scores.
And emotional literacy is just as important as academic literacy, if not more so.
I was going to say something about an item I heard on the ‘Today’ programme on Radio 4 yesterday, but it’s so negative I think I’ll leave it till tomorrow. Best to stay with positive thoughts about the great work the Hawn Foundation is doing with regards to drawing attention to children’s right to a joyful education and a caring home life.