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Today’s post: Remember middle school? For many gifted kids, it’s a time for talent searches, MathCounts and other great things, but a new study from Cheri Pierson Yecke, “Mayhem in the Middle” says American schools are not taking these critical years as seriously as we could. In the past few decades, she writes, a new philosophy has seized education thought leaders, one called “middle schoolism.” This philosophy holds that the early teen years are best devoted to socialization, learning to get along with other people, and learning one’s place in the world – not academics.
Anyone who’s lived through middle school knows that the young teen brain is developing on all those social fronts. But Yecke points out that it’s still developing on the academic front, too, and this country pays a terrible price for not demanding rigorous work from middle school students. While American 4th graders do as well as the rest of the world on TIMSS scores, American 8th graders lag behind. Are middle schools to blame? Maybe we need a bit less mayhem, and a bit more mindfulness.