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A Failed Audience for a Successful Speaker

Written by Jane Li

On Tuesday, April 7th, CSG, Wellington, and Academy’s freshmen gathered in the Barton Room to listen to Dr. Madeline Levine, a psychologist, who wrote Teach Your Children Well, a New York Times bestseller. In addition, she co-founded Challenge Success, an expansion of the SOS (Stressed Out Students) Project, at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Education.

With such an esteemed guest, our school undoubtedly had great expectations, and the content of her talk did not disappoint. She explained how the path to success is frequently littered with failures. But as kids, we shouldn’t be wrapped up in thoughts of our future success.

Too many of us are overly concerned with grades, GPA’s, colleges, and pleasing others. Healthy development will benefit our future success more than pulling an all-nighter to get an A on a quiz. Ultimately, our extreme focus on grades and disregard for skills like problem-solving and communication will hinder our success. Most of all, kids should get to be kids, and continue to love learning for what it is.

Dr. Levine raised several good points, and her speech was thought-provoking. Unfortunately, most of the audience didn’t seem to care. When she spoke, it was never quiet. Kids weren’t paying attention but whispering with their friends where they thought she couldn’t see them. She called for attention numerous times, and it took several seconds for her to regain control of the room, wasting precious time.

In one particular exercise, students gave silly responses to a question that required serious consideration. The feeling of, “I don’t want to be here,” and, “This is a waste of my time,” intensified as Dr. Levine continued. A smaller group or formal setting could have benefitted both speaker and audience.

In a room crammed with two hundred freshmen, what were we expecting?



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