Anxiety, depression, and their dangerous manifestations-substance abuse, eating disorders, self-injury and suicide- are increasing student conditions at many competitive high schools. Paradoxically, most of these schools promote themselves as being committed to students’ holistic development in academics, athletics and the arts, and in their personal, social, and emotional growth. So why are so many students struggling? Dr. Gleason has investigated these concerns in competitive high schools throughout the United States and around the world, and has found almost complete unanimity in how educators and parents have responded to his interviews. In sum, these caring and dedicated adults fully admit to overscheduling, overworking and, at times, overwhelming their students and teenaged children. This conflict – adults wanting to educate and parent adolescents in healthy and balanced ways, but simultaneously, overscheduling, overworking and, at times, overwhelming them – is at the heart of this book.
What People Are Saying About At What Cost?:
Stress and depression among adolescents continue to intensify at an alarming rate. David Gleason has written a truly remarkable book from several perspectives. He has identified factors that contribute to the physical and emotional distress confronting teens, especially emphasizing the unrealistic expectations that are placed on these youth. He has shown that many of these expectations are not in keeping with what the developing teen brain can handle. He has also vividly captured through interviews the dilemma expressed by well-meaning parents and educators who on the one hand recognize that many of the demands they are placing on adolescents are unrealistic but yet they are reluctant to make changes. Some educators are concerned that any reduction in academic requirements may tarnish the reputation of the school even while they acknowledge the burden being placed on their students. What I found very admirable is David’s ability to avoid casting blame and judgment but instead displaying empathy for all parties involved. This ability will serve to lessen defensiveness and promote openness as readers reflect upon not only the problems identified by David but, most importantly, the wise solutions he offers. This is a book that will serve as an impressive resource to be read and re-read by all of us who desire to nurture resilience and hope in our teens. Robert Brooks, Ph.D., Faculty, Harvard Medical School (part-time), Co-author, “Raising Resilient Children” and “The Power of Resilience: Achieving Balance, Confidence, and Personal Strength in Your Life”
Dr. Robert Brooks
A fantastic & important book. As a former student of one of these highly competitive schools, I was brought to tears multiple times reading this book. I feel like David Gleason truly hears these adolescents (and my younger self) and responds to them from a reasoned, empathic, and deeply scientific perspective. At What Cost is this full response. Which is exactly what is needed right now. I think every teacher, parent, principal, and administrator at these highly competitive type schools around the world should read this book. At What Cost is also well written and easy to read and digest without a psych background, which makes the information accessible and manageable. A must read for anyone connected to these schools.
Dr. Gleason poignantly addresses the problem of “hyper-schooling” at highly selective and competitive secondary schools, clearly outlining the problem through his own observations and research. As Dr. Gleason points out in this engaging read, “pressure to succeed, in and of itself, is not necessarily unhealthy, but too much pressure, especially for still-developing children and adolescents-can be dangerous.”
Gleason’s book should be required reading for faculty and parents who need to be aware of the dangers of unrealistic expectation for students who are not developmentally ready.