Chapter 9: Stressed out UK Children

Chapter 1:   Setting the Scene
Chapter 2:   Where to Start?
Chapter 3:   OECD PISA Reports
Chapter 4:   UNICEF Report
Chapter 5:   Decline of USA
Chapter 6:   The UK Experience
Chapter 7:   My UK Experience
Chapter 8:   People at the coalface
Chapter 9:   Stressed out Children
Chapter 10: Finland
Chapter 11: The Interview
Chapter 12: Pointers for the Future
Chapter 13: Music – The Crucial Ingredient
Chapter 14: Conclusion

The descriptions that follow should shock for they indicate the dreadful toil that the present system is having on many of the nation’s children. One would have thought that the news would result in a thorough examination and review of policy but, sadly, nothing of the sort occurred.

Such a reaction, or to be more accurate non-reaction, indicates the mindset of politicians and administrators; their total lack of empathy for children and, equally, their insensitivity and lack of insight in regards to what policies would result in success.

Diary of a teacher who left
I taught in a school that reflected the insuperable social problems of its catchment area. The answer of the administrators was to introduce what can be rightly labelled “lesson-plan lunacy.” Mercifully, such lesson-plan lunacy is not universal but it is common.

The measures introduced included making every teacher write down, and submit for approval, a detailed lesson plan for every lesson taught. These had to be broken down into five-minute units, each of which amounted to a mini-lesson plan in its own right.

Most full-time teachers there taught 24 one-hour lessons a week. It does not need any special insight to appreciate the enormous amount of effort and time that each teacher had to spend on fulfilling this obligation. The system introduced resulted in children not learning to ask questions but merely to answer them.

Teachers have no choice but to coach, goad and indoctrinate their students until they could provide the answers that the system demanded. Thus, the purpose of education is no longer the enrichment and fulfilment of individual ability and aptitude but the uniform certification that certain training has occurred.

Those of us at the coalface know what a grind it is to endure and survive; sadly, the children are now developing a similar mindset.

Reasons to be cheerless
The meaninglessness of modern life exposes us to such despair that we need more than a stiff upper lip to cope. A quarter of children aged between four and six say they are “stressed out,” and the proportion rises to just over half of children under 16, reported a survey published late last week. It is getting just too much. Children who should have no thoughts in their heads but how to skip, kick a football and splash poster paint around are cracking up.

Evidence of the increasing incidence of children’s mental ill health is reaching mountainous proportions: self-harm, attention deficit disorder, depression and obsessive behaviour have all increased sharply among children in recent years.

Therefore, this survey, conducted by a market research company, TNS, was not saying anything we had not already heard plenty of times before.

There is a real danger of an ostrich mentality, insisting to all the teenagers with suicidal tendencies that what they feel is not real, they are just unwitting victims of a gigantic cultural fraud.

Do not expect the scenario to improve. We are implementing policies and training our children to suffer even more. It is inevitable that, eventually, they will pay us back.

Stressed-out seven-year-olds
The reality is that, today, politicians are obsessed with examinations, league tables and rote learning and this is creating a nation of stressed infants. Instead of learning a broad range of skills through natural play, children were and are being rigidly drilled.

Instead of them receiving an education that enables them to be creative and self-confident, they are feeling that they are failures at the tender age of seven.

We may be in control of them at seven but they grow up into teenagers and adults who in many ways have been damaged for life. The cost of these misguided and inflexible policies will eventually be enormous in terms of human wastage and cost to society. Why administrators refuse to examine systems in countries whose students outperform UK students is still a mystery.

London November 2005
Dr. Dylan Griffiths has spent more than 20 years healing the minds of troubled teenagers. But the British psychiatrist is shocked by what he is now facing on a daily basis. He is treating record numbers of disturbed young patients, unable to cope with the pressures of modern life, who are hooked on drink, drugs and underage sex, or who are so desperate they even contemplate suicide.

The age of experimentation among Britain’s teenagers is dropping every year, he and other leading health workers warn, creating a mental health time bomb that will create a generation of dysfunctional adults. 

“For today’s teens, marijuana, cocaine and alcohol are as ubiquitous as traffic on the street,” said Griffiths; “Adolescents who self-harmed were rare 30 years ago. Today, self-harming is a dramatic, addictive behaviour, a maladaptive way for growing numbers of youngsters to relieve their psychological distress.”

A report into adolescent mental health (independent study commissioned by the Priory Group) paints a bleak picture of the growing mental-health crisis among 12 to 19-year-olds. Family break-up, increasing pressure to achieve at school, a lack of tolerance in society and an “anything goes” attitude are all contributing to a rise in the number of young people pushed to the brink of suicide, with others driven to experiment with drugs, drink and underage sex as a way of coping with stress.

More than 900,000 adolescents have been so miserable they have considered suicide, the study says. A million have wanted to self-harm and more than half a million have experienced bullying or violence at home.

Peer pressure was influential for many adolescents using alcohol or drugs. One in twenty 13-year-olds and around one in six 15-year-olds had experimented with illegal substances, believing it would make them look “cool” and be better accepted at school. Counsellors, drug experts and mental health charities agree that action is needed urgently to prevent a generation of young people growing up with serious mental health problems.

Teachers Leaving the Profession
Good teachers are leaving the teaching profession in the USA (I have no figures for the UK) in unprecedented numbers. Even a cursory examination of determinants will conclude why this is occurring.

If the objective is to persuade good teachers to leave the teaching profession then implement policies enacted in the UK and USA.

Encouraging good teachers to stay in the teaching profession then implement policies enacted in Finland and up until the present government, New Zealand.

It is clear that in the elementary school system, standardized testing, league tables, the whole concept of coercing and persuading schools and children to compete against each other is basically wasteful and even harmful.

It involves the spending of considerable sums of money that could be better spent elsewhere, is damaging and harmful to many children and, in many cases, will have exactly the opposite results of those intended.

I was very fortunate to go to New Zealand in 1985 and meet top administrators including the Minister of Education at a time of change. I was also very fortunate that these people, unlike their counterparts in the UK, USA and the present New Zealand government, believed that part of their responsibility was to listen to professional educators. The result was that educators like me were able to make a contribution to the education system.

If interested, Mollet Learning Academy (MLA) and WideHorizon Education Resources (WER) produces Teaching Packs that are designed to appeal to the heart, head and hands. Original material is the Mollet Learning Academy (MLA) Teaching Packs (written initially for New Zealand teachers). On request from USA teachers, monitoring and assessment procedures were added and renamed WER Teaching Packs to distinguish them from MLA Teaching Packs. All lessons are designed to appeal to the heart, head and hands. 

Business Plan at

For overall content of Ancient Civilisations please click
Program Overview Ancient Civilisations
For overall content of Ancient Kush please click  Program Overview Kush
For overall content of History of California please click
Overview Teachers Handbook CA
For overall content re improving reading and language skills through history please click Overview Reading History
For overall content re MLA approach to teaching
mathematics please click Overview Teaching Math
For overall content re MLA approach to teaching
fractions please click Fractions Teacher Handbook
For overall content re MLA approach to teaching multiplication tables please click Multiplication Tables Teachers Handbook 

Previous PowerPoint presentations converted to pdfs for wordpress
Ancient China P_China
Ancient Egypt P_Egypt
Ancient Greece P_Greece
Ancient India P_India
Ancient Israelites P_Israelites
Ancient Kush P_Kush
Mesopotamia P_Mesopotamia
Early Humankind/Prehistory P_Prehistory
Ancient Rome P_Rome

Fractions P_Fractions
Multiplication Tables  P_MultiplicationTables

The following free sample lessons (sorry limit one at present) are available in this order: Ancient Civilisations (Ancient China, Ancient Egypt, Ancient Greece, Ancient India, Ancient Kush, Ancient Israelites, Ancient Rome, Mesopotamia, Prehistory/Early Humankind), Fractions, Multiplication Tables, History of California, See below titles for descriptions.

Ancient China  (Lessons 4/5 of Module 2)
Mathematics, Counting Rods and Chinese Abacus
Ancient Egypt (Lesson 3 of Module 3)
Papyrus – how it is made, activities etc
Ancient Greece (Lesson 1 of Module 2)
Story “Parrhasius and Helena”, Guided Reading,
The Court of Law, Simulate an Athenian Court of Law.
Ancient India  (Lesson 3 of Module 2)
“Asoka and the Mauryan Empire,” “India’s National Emblem,”
Assessment Rubric for India’s National Emblem,
Ancient Kush (Lesson 2 of Module 2)
Story “Expedition to Jebel Barkal,” “Jebel Barkal: A Poem,”
Guided Reading, Review Exercises
Ancient Israelites (Lesson 2 of Module 1)
Story “Abraham,” Father of a Nation, Guided Reading
Ancient Rome (Lesson 3 of Module 2)
“The people of Rome speak out,” Story “Julius Caesar,”
Crossing the Rubicon, Guided Reading
Mesopotamia (Lesson 4 of Module 3)
Story “Gilgamesh,” “The Death of Enkidu.”
Prehistory/Early Humankind (Lesson 2 of Module 2)
The Crô-Magnons including story “The Lascaux Caves”,
Guided Reading and “The Cave Paintings at Altmira.”

Fractions SubUnit 3.4 Drama: A Tale of Fractions
A free lesson/drama involving students in a drama about the Pied Piper of Hamelin

Multiplication Tables SubUnit 3.7 Ten Times Table: Mr. Pickles
A free lesson, activities, story, game/, patterns,
cooperative learning activities about the ten times table

History of California Lesson 5.6 The Gold Rush: Part 1
A free lesson describing the background of the gold rush and life in the gold fields

For video clips please see
Ancient Civilisations
Ancient China
Multiplication Tables
McLaren Rd talk
Be the ONE who listens 

Since advent of social media all material is now in pdf format (no postage or processing fee). Physical copies (postage/processing fees apply) can be provided at additional cost – please contact MLA.
Each SubUnit (not Unit) costs USA $19.95
  NZ $24.95
(This price includes permission to photocopy)

1. The MLA approach to education believes in developing the creative and imaginative side of the student in harmony with the intellectual and cognitive. To achieve this, MLA Teaching Packs make stories and drama an integral part of the lessons and involve students through storytelling, art, simulations, drama, craft, discussion and creation of a personal record.

2. There are MLA Teaching Packs for teaching
a) Ancient Civilizations/World History
b) History of California and
c) Mathematics (Fractions and Multiplication Tables)

3. In a MLA Teaching Pack you will find teacher guidelines, stories providing an in-depth experience, information sheets presented in an interesting and stimulating format, activity sheets, suggestions for further research, maps with related activities, questions for discussion and assessment, dramas for class/school performance, guidance for the student’s personal record or portfolio, a variety of review exercises and contents designed and structured for authentic assessment

4. For an explanation of the philosophy behind the writing of these packs click here
(David Mollet’s HomePage)

5. If you are interested in how your students can work with top quality papyrus (imported from Egypt) click here.

6. We have also customized our material for USA public schools. This material includes monitoring and assessment procedures for students some of which are not based on the MLA approach.

7. Information on workshops/presentations for introducing the MLA approach into public schools available at: here (WideHorizon) and here (Waldorf))

8. Click here to read what teachers think about our lessons/newsletters.

“These resource packs contain unbound, ready-to-use reproducible masters, that are varied, simple, and appealing to students. The interactive strategies suggested are suitable for independent, small-group, and whole-class assignments.”
(Grade 6 Course Models – California State Department of Education)

9. Click here to go to author’s experiences in the Waldorf world.

10. Click here for details of on-line courses accredited by San Diego State University.

Dr. David Mollet
NZ: h 09-555-2021 m 022-101-1741, 41 Hilling St, Titirangi, Auckland 0604 
USA: 619-463-1270, 6656 Reservoir Lane, San Diego, CA 92115 (Skype waldorfedu)

1) The material was initially written for New Zealand teachers but on request from USA teachers, monitoring and assessment procedures were added. To view this material please visit
WideHorizon Education Resources (WER) Waldorf Education Resources (WER)
2) MLA is also involved in researching on an international basis, what works and what doesn’t work. Most of the research results can be seen at while a draft of a book The Task for New Zealand Education is at
3) Blogs at
4) Business Plan at
5) Papyrus


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