The academic challenges students face today are different from those of twenty years ago. In the 1980s and 1990s Advanced Placement courses were for the elite. Very quickly, in the early 2000s, schools began to not only encourage, but to push students into AP courses. “This is a boon for the for-profit College board.” (Evva). AP courses are a great opportunity for students but if you’re working them to hard and the results in stressed, depressed and suicidal students. Then, what’s the point?
Stress can destroy a human physically, emotionally, and mentally. The average high school student in this generation shows to have higher stress and anxiety levels, along with increased medical problems from this stress, than ever before (Anderson). Many factors can contribute to this stress and the negative effects it can take on a student’s mind. With students and their undeveloped minds, stress takes a larger toll on their current and future health (“School”).
Students in high school are going through changing from a child to an adult (Kidshealth). Modern society only adds to the stress of a student. Students are more worried about their futures rather than just high school. Despite what your parents think, you are not an adult. Yet, they act like the world is coming to an end when you go and hang out with your friends instead of studying. Now with post-secondary programs becoming more competitive, teachers and parents are putting even more stress on students so that their son/daughter can be the best of the best. Students are taught things that they usually are supposed to learn at a higher grade earlier itself so that they perform better in the next year’s exams hoping to increase a school’s reputation They are pushed to their limits in order to achieve. If they fail to get into the post-secondary program of their interest, then there will be more stress in not knowing what to do next. Now, stress can be a good thing if dealt with correctly. If stress is not handled correctly, it will only be harmful.
The amount of pressure a student has to achieve high levels of success academically is overriding the joys of education. It is making kids anxious and depressed. School is now full of a high amount of expectations that strain students. Teachers are so focused on high test scores and good grades. They only care about meeting the state goals. Handing out exams and standardized texting without having a student understand the content. They give you a textbook and have you memorized some definitions. It’s not about creativity and the joy of learning something a student likes. It’s constantly textbook material, no discussion, no questions, no hands-on material. So, people fail. It’s not easy for everyone. People can’t learn that way. The number of things a student has to do in a day in which they pretty much have to teach by themselves is crazy.
Some students with high stress may turn to other methods to deal with their stress. Some examples of these methods are cheating, drug and alcohol abuse, eating disorders, or attempts of suicide or self-harm. Students who can’t cope with stress positively will eventually lead to self-destruction. If this stress is not confronted while the student is still young, the stress could lead to future mental problems.
“I didn’t study for the test. Do you think you could send me a picture of the answers?” Being a student, this is something I hear a lot. Cheating is something students often do when they want to receive a good grade on a test. In a survey of 24,000 students at 70 high schools, Donald McCabe (Rutgers University) found that 64 percent of students admitted to cheating on a test, 58 percent admitted to plagiarism and 95 percent said they participated in some form of cheating, whether it was on a test, plagiarism or copying homework (“Plagiarism”). School isn’t about education anymore; it’s about getting good grades and that increases pressure. The amount of academic cheating has drastically risen within the last 50 years among students all around the world (“Plagiarism”). However, there are effects of high stress that are far worse than cheating on paper.
Up to one in five kids living in the U.S show sign or symptoms of a mental health disorder in a given year (Anderson). So, in my calculus class of 25 students, 5 of them are struggling with depression, anxiety or substance abuse. 49 percent of students reported “a great deal of stress” on a daily basis (“Survey”). Many estimates show that even though mental illness affects so many of our kids aged 6-17 at least one-half and many estimates as many as 80% of them do not receive the mental health care they need (“Problems”).
Teens has more than enough to juggle on a daily basis including extracurricular activities, loads of homework and social life to cover. On top of getting good grades students are expected and encouraged to be involved in sports, church activities, musical activists, school dances, prom committee, link crew, etc,. With the daily activities happening in their life, they are anxious to keep up. “It’s hard to concentrate and it’s hard to do well in school if your brain is constantly having to respond to stress,” said Marc Brackett, a researcher in the Yale University Department of Psychology and director of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence (UsaToday). Children are often busier than their working parents, coming home later than them. More over students are also many at times forced to study subjects that they don’t have even the slightest inclination for. Pressure from teachers, parents and peers force many to students to take up subjects not of their choice.
Schools are supposed to be considered temples of learning. A person spends 12 – 14 years of his life in school. These years are where a person transfers from a kid to an adult. Within this time, we learn about the world, how to solve problems, the different kinds of people, etc. He/She is supposed to be prepared to meet the world with knowledge, courage and to lead. But instead, schools create a robot-like next generation. When we go out in the real world we are limited in the knowledge of the ability to think out-of-the-box and to imagine and create. We are given theories and facts. We are forced to come up with things without understanding them. To me, someone with imagination and creativity is more intelligent than a person who knows what happened at exactly 2 a.m on December 18th of 1901.
College and Ap classes are a great opportunity for students to further their education. People didn’t have these kinds of opportunities before the beginning of the 2000’s. Encouraging children to take up co-curricular and extra-curricular activities are fine as long as they are enjoying it and not tiring themselves out to achieve the fantasies their parents once had for themselves. Stress can be good if you deal with is positively.
Children forget to enjoy the small pleasures of life like enjoying the first rains, playing football just for the fun of it rather than for getting the best players award. Letting a child be what he or she is while at the same time learning their strengths and talents is what schools are supposed to do. Bringing up the next generation in the right way is no task and does not include reading to them from textbooks and drawing diagrams on the board but includes talking to them at personal and understanding them for what they are. As one student explained, “despite achieving success, she had paid a price: she felt that she had evolved into someone other than the person she wanted to be.”, (Smartkids).
Applying the right amount of pressure can help students understand what it means to succeed but excess pressure can damage them and who they are. What if we offered healthier alternatives for teenager, that reminds us to actively engage our minds and bodies? To spend more time with friends and family, reading, exercising, attending religious services, and participating activities they find meaningful. Wouldn’t you want that?
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