Journalist Alexandra Robbins returned for a discussion about her new book, The Overachievers, a narrative that documents the stress and pressures placed on a group of high school students. Education has become a race to get ahead, and to succeed at all costs, not unlike the TV show Survivor, she said.
For her research, Robbins returned to her old high school and followed the lives of nine students, such as "AP Frank" who was dealing with extreme parental pressure, and Taylor, a girl whose intelligence posed problems for her popularity. Many students (and their parents) feel that in order to "win" they must attend an elite university. Yet studies have shown, Robbins pointed out, that Ivy League schools don't necessarily provide a better educational experience than lesser regarded schools.
The current climate, she reported, encourages "cutthroat competition," where students are more concerned over their class rankings and test scores than actual learning, and extracurricular activities are engaged in for strategic purposes rather than enjoyment. She even found that some students were "doping" on ADD drugs to do better on tests. To counteract the intense pressures, Robbins suggested that families take a more relaxed attitude about the college selection process, and that students occasionally participate in an "unrewarded" activity, simply because it is something they like to do. For more, read the first chapter of The Overachievers.
During the first half-hour, author Charlie Bosworth commented on John Mark Karr's release in the JonBenet Ramsey case. Characterizing Karr as "seriously disturbed," Bosworth said he'd studied some of the emails that Karr had sent Michael Tracey and concluded that he may have culled info about the case from various published reports and books.