Audrey's Thoughts on Toxic Achievement Culture

Meet the culprit crushing your student's curiosity and confidence.

In the 1990s, Yale researcher Suniya Luthar began studying the lives of American teenagers affected by poverty, crime and substance abuse. In search of a control group to compare her findings, she uncovered a shocking truth: affluent suburban teenagers were struggling more with substance abuse and mental health than less privileged peers. 

This surprising outcome led to an insight that the seemingly most privileged group of kids qualified as “at-risk” due to “excessive pressure to excel.”

The book Never Enough examines the toll toxic achievement culture takes on all of us while ultimately arriving upon the critical antidote: instilling a sense of mattering in our kids. Many feel they must outperform their parents yet doubt their ability to thrive in an unstable world. This fuels anxiety in students and parents alike. Families fear that no matter how hard their child works, college acceptance is not guaranteed, jeopardizing their future success. In response, parents over-manage and over-schedule kids, removing opportunities to fail.

CC_Cornell-72At Curious Cardinals, we see this anxiety in parents and students every day, which is why Curious Cardinals mom Vanessa Cornell decided to host a discussion between myself and the author of Never Enough, Jennifer Wallace. While we emphasize looking beyond Friday's test to find deeper meaning at Curious Cardinals, it’s easier said than done. Kids need to know they have intrinsic worth and see that they matter in action.

But what does it mean to “matter”, and how can we prevent kids from falling into the toxic achievement trap that zaps their creativity, curiosity, and self-worth? I’ll be sharing 3 major takeaways from our panel on the Curious Cardinals Blog.

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Mentorship Matters

A Curious Cardinals mentor can help your student discover their sense of mattering and re-infuse the creativity they’ve lost in our perfection-obsessed academic culture. Get matched with the perfect mentor today.

Know a parent who needs help fanning their student’s sparks? Refer a friend!

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