Dear Future President,
Currently, students are experiencing a constant struggle from stress and the fear of failure due to the daily pressures of school. Students are getting this anxiety from the pressure to get good grades, the excessive amounts of homework and time consuming extracurricular activities.
To start, students are continuously pressured to achieve honorable grades and not fail which causes them to be stressed. School administrators claim that pressure to get good grades pushes students to work harder, and I have mixed feelings about it. On the one hand, I agree that a little pressure helps students bring forth their best work. On The other hand, I still insist that the increased pressure to get good grades causes students to endure excessive stress. “A poll of US high school students conducted by USA today, around 88% say that they wanted to go to college, yet felt an ‘extreme’ amount of pressure to get good grades in high school” (http://www.professorshouse.com/is-the-pressure-to-achieve-good-grades-in-high-school-worth-the-stress/). This extreme pressure needs to be known by parents and teachers because it is beginning to be a participating factor in anxiety which can lead to many other health issues amongst students. “Professionals are often confronted with students who are so afraid of failing an exam or assignment that, in the end, it may be the fear itself and not the difficulty of the task that prevents the student from achieving his or her academic goals” (http://www.eaie.org/blog/helping-students-overcome-fear-of-failure/). I’m implying that it has become common today to dismiss the anxiety that students inherit from the struggle of possible failure. Many teachers may feel at a loss when it comes to things like test anxiety because it is difficult for them to make the student feel less anxious. Other teachers would contradict by saying they try to make a comfortable environment for students in hopes that it would bring their anxiety levels down, but personally I feel that what they are doing isn't increasingly beneficial. “ECU reported a 16% increase in student counseling appointments in the past two years. Those involving a crisis were at 52%” (http://www.nbcnews.com/feature/college-game-plan/college-teaches-anxious-students-not-see-failure-catastrophic-n641521). Students all around the world feel as though they are in a continuous battle when trying to achieve good grades because they don't want to fail. Challenges like these are looked past without realizing the effects of stress and anxiety on these students. ‘"The number one complaint is anxiety — the feeling of being overwhelmed, and panic attacks,’ said Kisler-van Reede” (http://www.nbcnews.com/feature/college-game-plan/college-teaches-anxious-students-not-see-failure-catastrophic-n641521).
Accordingly, students are sent home with tremendous amounts of homework which leads to their anxiety on many levels. Although none of them ever said so directly, my teachers have often given the impression that they don't give their students a great deal of homework, they see it as beneficial rather than detrimental. CNN studied a survey of more than 4,300 students from multiple high-performing schools that said otherwise, “56% of the students in the study cited homework as a primary stressor in their lives” (http://www.cnn.com/2014/03/21/health/homework-stress/). The constant stress they feel due to homework is leading students to obtain damaging health issues. This concerns parents and family due to the fact that their child could be gaining an unfortunate health issue from the stress they feel over homework load.
Lastly, many students are inheriting anxiety from the extravagant hours of extracurricular activities they participate in. In discussions of the limited hours students have from after school activities, one controversial issue has been, “Jennifer Fredricks, associate director of human development at Connecticut College found that the positive effects of one to 13 hours of weekly extracurricular activities were clear in children’s exam performance.” Though this was found to be true, evidence contradicts her by saying, “But for students taking part in more than 17 hours of lessons, clubs and classes outside school, their grades and overall well being notably dropped” (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1370429/Study-finds-extracurricular-activities-lead-exam-stress.html). Smaller amounts of activity outside of schoolwork does benefit students academically but the enormously larger amounts of time expected from most students on extracurricular activities, proves to be pulling them into an overall stressful atmosphere which causes them to gain the fear of failure.
Students are trying to make every effort to succeed in life but find themselves at multiple bumps in the road filled with destructive health problems like stress, anxiety and fear of failure from trying to achieve acceptable grades. Most students complain about the loads of exhausting homework and not enough time to finish it all and succeed due to after school activities. If we don't address these issues with anyone who is involved with students, we will keep seeing a decline of hard work and success.
“The researchers asked students whether they experienced physical symptoms of stress, such as headaches, exhaustion, sleep deprivation, weight loss, and stomach problems. More than 80 percent of students reported having at least one stress-related symptom in the past month, and 44 percent said they had experienced three or more symptoms” (http://www.healthline.com/health-news/children-more-homework-means-more-stress-031114#4). Students are in a constant battle to succeed as well as deal with their stress all by themselves. If we don't use the knowledge we have to reach out to parents, teachers, communities, etc. we will have to live with the fact that we didn't do anything to fix it. By sitting back and setting the issue aside, students are going to continue to be dragged down by the unwanted and unhealthy feelings of stress and failure. We can start small with the encouragement of less homework from teachers which will benefit and increase the amount of time students have to de-stress themselves. Finland schools for example, have totally re-shaped the way their students learn. They give students little to no homework, shorter school days to allow for after school activities and encourage the teachers to experiment with different teaching styles to benefit all students. If the United States began adapting to changes in our schools today, we would have a top school system like Finland's that eliminates the stress and fears of failure students experience. “You need to be content with small steps. That’s all life is. Small steps that you take every day so when you look back down the road it all adds up and you know you covered some distance.” ~ Katie Kacvinsky