Dr. David Gleason
Education Innovator, Author and Consulting Psychologist of Concord Academy, USA

Dr. David Gleason is a clinical psychologist who provides counseling and consulting services, as well as neuropsychological assessments, within public, independent and international schools. Dr. Gleason earned a B.A. in Psychology (1982) and an M.A. in Counseling Children & Adolescents from Boston College (1987), and then a Psy.D. at William James College (f.k.a. Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology) in 1993. Dr. Gleason then served as Administrative Director of Student Support Services at St. Paul’s School in New Hampshire before opening his own practice in Concord, Massachusetts in 2000. At that time, Dr. Gleason also joined Concord Academy as that school’s Consulting Psychologist. In addition, Dr. Gleason serves as Senior Neuropsychologist at Wediko Children’s Services in Boston, where he supervises pre and post-doctoral neuropsychology interns and he co-teaches a professional development seminar. Finally, Dr. Gleason has taught psychology at the secondary, undergraduate and graduate levels, and he presents workshops and seminars at schools, national conferences in the United States, and at international conferences around the world. Dr. Gleason’s new book, At What Cost? Defending Adolescent Development in Fiercely Competitive Schools, was released in January, 2017.

Abstract

At What Cost? Defending Adolescent Development in Fiercely Competitive Schools

Anxiety, disillusionment and depression emerge, sometimes with devastating outcomes, as conflicts between ever-increasing school expectations and students’ developmental capacities persist. Tellingly, many highachieving schools have been termed “epicenters of overachievement” where students “hear the overriding message that only the best will do in grades, test scores, sports, art, college…in everything.” Consequently, too many students in these schools feel stressed and pressured, conditions that lead not only to anxiety and depression, but also, to a host of dangerous manifestations of those conditions: substance abuse, eating disorders, sleep deprivation, cutting and other forms of selfinjury, and too often, suicide.

Why is this happening? With the help of a structured but open-ended interview, I have investigated these issues in many schools in the United States and in hundreds of international schools throughout Europe and Asia. With this extensive research, I have found almost complete unanimity in how educators and parents associated with all these schools have responded to my inquiries. To an alarming degree, that unanimity is this: these caring and dedicated adults admit – albeit unintentionally – to overscheduling, overworking and, at times, overwhelming their students and teenage children.

Over the past decade, unprecedented insights from human brain research have revealed that environment not only affects adolescent identity, but it shapes the brain itself. In light of the intensifying pressures on adolescents that we admit to impost on them, what must we do now? For all our students, finding the right balance between an appropriate level of academic rigor and educating them in healthy, safe and balanced ways has crucial lifelong implications.

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