“I am very concerned about the growing trend toward institutionalizing children as soon as possible and keeping them institutionalized as long as possible. This is an alarming trend, and, as a teacher, I see its negative results every day—kids who don’t know who they are!
These kids are suffering from school fatigue at 12 and 13. By the time I get them in grade 9, a good half have lost all interest in learning. They are tired of jumping through hoops. They have been robbed of their childhoods and they know it. The earlier you start kids in any kind of institutional process, the sooner they’ll burn out and lose all interest in that process.
We are going to reap a bitter harvest from a generation of over-institutionalized, over-programmed kids. I believe the rising incidence of depression and substance abuse in later adolescence is, in part, the product of kids growing up over-stressed and under-nurtured by state-run institutions that claim to serve their needs.”
Michael Reist is head of the English department at Robert F. Hall Catholic Secondary School in Caledon East, Ontario. He has taught high school English for 25 years.