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Student Survey: Youth Value Success and Happiness

A team of researchers at the Harvard Graduate School of Education asked 10,000 middle and high school students the following question: "What is most important to you? Achieving at a high level, happiness (defined, in part, as feeling good most of the time) or caring for others?" 48 percent of students selected high achievement as their top priority; 30 percent chose happiness. Only 22 percent placed caring for others at the top of their list.

The researchers said, "Some youth made it quite clear to us that their self-interest is paramount: 'If you are not happy, life is nothing. After that, you want to do well. And after that, expend any excess energy on others.'"

Their research report was appropriately titled, "THE CHILDREN WE MEAN TO RAISE: The Real Messages Adults Are Sending About Values," and the first line of their Executive Summary stated, "Our youth's values appear to be awry, and the messages that adults are sending may be at the heart of the problem."

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