In 2014 Dr. Peter Gray, author of Free to Learn and a research professor and former head of the psychology department at Boston College, published an article entitled, The Danger of Back to School: Children’s Mental Health Crises Plummet in Summer and Rise in the School Year. This article attempts to quantify what many parents have noted throughout the years: many children seem happier and more relaxed during the summer than they do during the school year. Indeed, Dr. Gray cites and uses data from children’s emergency psychiatric visits at Connecticut’s Children’s Mental Center in Hartford.
Dr. Gray concludes, “Someone might argue that the seasonal variation in mental health crises reflects the weather, not the school year. However, that argument falls on its face when we look at the other months. The month with the highest rate of children’s mental health ER visits is May, and May is generally a beautiful month, weather-wise, in Connecticut, but it may well be the toughest month of school. May is the month of final tests, due detes for papers, and the crunch to make it through the rest of the curriculum.
“These, admittedly, are data from just one children’s mental health center. I’d love to find more data to test the hypothesis. If you know of such data, or if you are motivated to do some research to dig such data out of a children’s mental health center in your community, let me know! Meanwhile, if you are a parent of a school-age child thinking about “back to school,” keep this in mind: The available evidence suggests quite strongly that school is bad for children’s mental health. Of course, it’s bad for their physical health, too; nature did not design children to be cooped up all day at a micromanaged, sedentary job.”
When the article ran on Dr. Gray’s Psychology Today blog in 2014 it caused some controversy, but no bans. However, something or someone claimed this is an abusive article when it was reposted on Dr. Gray’s Facebook page this weekend (Aug. 23—24, 2015) and the authorities at Facebook banned it.
It seems amazing to me that some of the most disgusting insults hurled at people on Facebook are protected as free speech (see for instance: “Australian writer Clementine Ford has been suspended from Facebook for 30 days after publicly posting abusive messages and requests for nude pictures she received from men.”) but an evidence-based article that questions school as a cause for mental health issues among children is considered abusive and is banned for public viewing on Facebook.
I don’t know who else or how to complain to about this on Facebook; Dr. Gray and others have already contacted Facebook and the post, as of my writing this on Monday, August 24, is still banned. Fortunately, there are ways around the ban, so if you want to read the article you can follow this link which you can share on Facebook.
Please do share this link as a way to protest Facebook’s overzealous curating of our reading material and to let others know that school can, and should, be changed so those who it does harm have other options to learn and grow.