Is Academic Overachievement Hurting Our Kids?

CNN reports today on a rash of adolescent suicides in the Mumbai area tied to students cracking under intense academic pressure. Admission to top Indian colleges and universities, such as the Indian Institute of Technology, are based solely on the results of a single test, and children jump through a number of preparatory hoops in order to perform well on these exams.Failing to come through in the clutch can devastate children. According to the CNN story, India's suicide rate is one of the highest in the world-and 40 percent of those deaths are of adolescents. In the Mumbai area, there have already been 25 suicides this year.Although that problem seems a world a way, a recently released documentary title Road to Nowhere (trailer embedded below) explores the same issue facing American children. Writing on Psychology Today's "The Power of Prime" blog, performance psychologist Jim Taylor calls the film "a real reminder of the very human and societal costs of our current education system."We've focused a lot on the perils of inadequate schools on this blog; this film essentially probes the other end of the spectrum: The unhealthy lifestyle of over-scheduled children who balance extracurricular activities with advanced placement classes, long nights of studying, minimal amounts of sleep, and (what looks like) not a lot of fun.According to Taylor, we're creating children who only know how to study for tests and who may be unable to cope with the real world:
The ramifications for the students themselves extend beyond the current physical and psychological toll; there may very well be a price they pay in their futures. For example, such a mind- and body-numbing educational experience will suck any joy of learning they may have right out of them. The current emphasis on rote memorization will sap their internal motivation to learn. As highlighted in Race to Nowhere, today's students may lack the critical thinking, creativity, and focus necessary to survive, much less thrive, as they enter higher education and the working world.
Ultimately, these concerns become an indictment of testing in general-and its perceived importance to children who want to succeed, teachers who want to keep their jobs, schools who want funding, and college admissions committees who want to show their getting high quality students (who perform well on tests). It's a pretty daunting cycle.[youtube]
via The Howard Stern Show / YouTube

Former Secretary of State, first lady, and winner of the popular vote in the 2016 presidential election, Hillary Clinton, sat own for an epic, two-and-a--half hour interview with Howard Stern on his SiriusXM show Wednesday.

She was there to promote "The Book of Gutsy Women," a book about heroic women co-written with her daughter, Chelsea Clinton.

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Fortunately, you can cut down on the amount of waste you produce by cutting down on disposable products. And even more fortunately, there are sustainable (and cute) replacements that won't damage the environment.

Coconut bowls


Who says sustainable can't also be stylish? These cute coconut bowls were handmade using reclaimed coconuts, making each piece one of a kind. Not only are they organic and biodegradable, but they're also durable, in case your dinner parties tend to get out of hand. The matching ebony wood spoons were polished with the same coconut oil as the bowls.

Cocostation Set of 2 Vietnamese Coconut Bowls and Spoons, $14.99; at Amazon

Solar powered phone charger


Why spend time looking around for an outlet when you can just harness the power of the sun? This solar powered phone charger will make sure your phone never dies as long as you can bask in the sun's rays. As an added bonus, this charger was made using eco-friendly silicone rubber. It's win-win all around.

Dizaul Solar Charger, 5000mAh Portable Solar Power Bank, $19.95; at Amazon, $19.95; at Amazon

Herb garden kit

Planter Pro

Put some green in your life with this herb planter. The kit comes with everything you need to get a garden growing, including a moisture meter that helps you determine if your herbs are getting the right amount of food to flourish. All the seeds included are certified to be non-GMO and non-hybrids, meaning you can have fresh, organic herbs right at your fingertips.

Planter Pro's Herb Garden Cedar Planter, $39.00; at Amazonedar Planter, $39.00; at Amazon

Reusable Keurig cups

K & J

Keurig cups are convenient, but they also create a ton of plastic waste. These Keurig-compatible plastic cups are an easy way to cut down on the amount of trash you create without cutting down on your caffeine. Additionally, you won't have to keep on buying K Cups, which means you'll be saving money and the environment.

K&J Reusable Filter Cups, $8.95 for a set of 4,; at Amazon

Low-flow shower head


Low-flow water fixtures can cut down your water consumption, which saves you money while also saving one of the Earth's resources. This shower head was designed with a lighter flow in mind, which means you'll be able to cut down on water usage without feeling like you're cutting down on your shower.

Speakman Low Flow Shower Head, $14.58; at Amazon

Bamboo safety razor


Instead of throwing away a disposable razor every time you shave, invest in an eco-friendly, reusable one. This unisex shaver isn't just sustainable, it's also sharp-looking, which means it would make a great gift for the holidays.

Zomchi Safety Razor, $16.99; at Amazon

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