The boot-camp expectations, the behavioral charts, the pinnies, all point to a calculated attempt to teach students self-discipline, focus, accountability — ultimately, self-control. Schools across the country are responding to a growing body of research that suggests a definitive and disturbing link between low levels of self-control in childhood and serious problems later in life.
It’s hard to believe, but letting kids throw punches or text-message their days away or blow off academics can lead to a slew of mental and physical health woes in adulthood. Terrie Moffitt, a preeminent researcher in self-control, observed in a groundbreaking study that the need for self-control in 21st-century America is “not just for well-being but for survival.”
As it turns out, our emotional lives matter as much, sometimes more, as our intellect in the path to success. And schools are exploring ways — from character-based education to mindfulness meditation to social emotional learning — to teach the challenging, essential ABCs of self-control.