BofEd Candidate Joann Sabatino-Falkenstein's Response to Yale Study Query

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Metuchen Matters: A recent Yale study claims that high schoolers are bored, stressed and tired from the contemporary curriculum. How do we ensure in our district that we will be able to engage our students and encourage them in rigorous academic challenge without increasing the amount of stress and anxiety the current system seems to create in their lives?

JoAnn Sabatino-Falkenstein: A recent Yale study claims that high schoolers are bored, stressed and tired from the contemporary curriculum. How do we ensure in our district that we will be able to engage our students and encourage them in rigorous academic challenge  without increasing the amount of stress and anxiety the current system seems to create in their lives?

Both as a parent and as a candidate I support academic rigor as well as student engagement, but I also think challenging curriculum requires the determination and perseverance to absorb it. The Yale study student sample of 22,000 (.0015 of the 14.9 million U.S. children in enrolled in grades 9-12 public school in Fall 2015, per the Institute of Education Sciences National Center for Education Statistics) was too small to be conclusive. The study was conducted as an online survey and the self-reported statistics listed in the article were "tired"--39%, "stressed"--29%, "bored"--26%, "happy--22% and "excited"--4.7%. This study was conducted by the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence with Lady Gaga's Born This Way Foundation.

The Metuchen School District adheres to principles of the Whole Child philosophy, which includes emotional intelligence, grit and perseverance. The core belief of Whole Child is that nurturing children's natural inclination to learn allows each child's highest and best abilities to flourish. Our 2015-2016 district goals are structured along the Whole Child tenets: Healthy, Safe, Engaged, Supported and Challenged. Our district has made many positive changes in recent years with respect to challenging children to achieve their personal best.

Mr. Cohen gave an extensive presentation on Mindfulness, Socio-Emotional Learning and Growth Mindset at the September 29th Board of Education meeting, which can be accessed on the district website: http://www.metuchenschools.org/metuchen/Announcements/Mindfulness%20Presentation%20September%2029%2C%202015.pdf?1445863754. To summarize, Whole Child philosophy centers on student-educator relationships and a responsive classroom, a focus on common core problem solving and character education and enrichment through sports, competitions and clubs.

Is it possible to ensure that over 600 teenagers are not tired, stressed or bored at any given time? It seems unlikely. To engage our students, we might ask them what they think about their school, as well as ways they would like to see it change.

The job of the Metuchen School District is to engage all students from the moment they enter our schools and prepare all of them to become successful adults in the world after graduation. The Whole Child approach will help ensure that all students achieve their personal best.

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