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Students Unhappy in School, Survey Finds

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By Stephanie WatsonOctober 26, 2015
From the WebMD Archives

Tired…bored…and stressed. High school students from across the country have weighed in on their emotional state in school — and overwhelmingly, they’re unhappy.

The survey, called Emotion Revolution, is a joint effort between the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence and the Born This Way Foundation, co-founded by Lady Gaga. Its goal: to take the emotional temperature of America’s youth, finding out how kids really feel about the time they spend in school.

Through the networking power of social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, the survey gathered data from a diverse sample of 22,000 students. Kids were male and female; gay, bisexual, and straight. They represented a cross-section of ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds.

The survey started with an open-ended question: “How are you feeling?” To which most of the students—75 percent—responded with negative emotions. “To me this is a pretty staggering finding,” says Marc Brackett, PhD, the study’s lead author and director of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence.

Students noted they were bored in school 70% of the time, and stressed 80% of the time. Kids who’d been on the receiving end of mean or cruel behavior were most likely to feel lonely, hopeless, or afraid. “To me, that’s something we need to think more about,” says Brackett. “What does it mean in terms of our nation’s education system?”

Then students were asked how they want to feel in school. Their answers: “Happy, excited, and energized.” The minority of surveyed kids who felt their teachers engaged them in the classroom felt less bored, more respected, and happier.

Brackett hopes the survey will empower young people and lead schools to incorporate more social and emotional learning. That type of learning helps kids manage their emotions in better ways to create a more positive learning environment.

“We need to close the gap,” he says. “We need to make schools places where all students feel happy, excited, energized, inspired.”

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