The mentality of modern high school students.

How does stress in schools affect high school students’ learning?

Godwin High School is a is ranked 22nd in the state and recognized for its academic rigor.  This academic intensity is felt directly by the students.

Photos Google Images

Photo Google Images

So many hours are spent by Godwin students stressing over grades, GPA, standardized test scores, and class rank.  There is a mentality in high school students all across the country today that grades define their worth.

Going through school with this mindset will only cause stress for students.

Junior Morgan Logsdon said, “I feel like there is a lot of stress in school to succeed and get good grades.  There is pressure from students and teachers to succeed in every subject.  There is competition even within classes and students to get the highest grades.”

There is no way to quantitatively recognize the talents students possess beyond those conveyed through multiple choice tests and short answer questions.  Students fail to see their holistic value when schools only focus on their testable academic worth.

This tunnel vision over grades makes students forget about participating in extracurricular activities, pursuing their passions, and getting involved outside of school.

Students in this mindset see only their next test and its associating grade.  It becomes easy for students to believe that underperforming on a single test will determine their grade for the rest of the class and even their future college admissions.

Each test, assessment, and individual graded assignment becomes the be-all and end-all assignment that determines their worth.  A disproportionate amount of stress is allotted to every point that the task is graded for.

The heavy emphasis on succeeding in every assignment in every class every day is amplified when students have all seven classes each day.  With homework to do, projects to finish, essays to write, and tests to study for each night, students complete the assignments for the grade, not to learn from it.

Homework assignments are finished for the completion grade, not the additional practice.  Projects are made exactly to the rubric, not to the student’s own ideas.  Essays are written for the teacher’s grading style, not for themselves.  Tests are crammed for the types of questions the teacher will ask, not for the sake of understanding the material.

In this there is a failure to account for the individual aspects of a student that are not measured out of 100 points.  Creativity, ingenuity, and unconventional thinking are not valued in the way that characteristics associated with science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) subjects are.

This is seen especially at Godwin, home of the Center for Medical Sciences, in that artistic courses outside of the STEM curriculum are stigmatized, valued and even weighted less than the core subjects.  Even creativity in projects is worth few to no points anymore.

According to Valeriya Metla of the Law Street Media, “They have sidelined arts education.  In light of [the No Child Left Behind Act and the Common Core State Standards], school districts began re-directing funds toward subjects that require standardized testing in order to increase the overall scores of their students.”

These supposed one size fits all curriculums do not work for all students. Every student learns differently and have different strengths or skills, many of which are not appropriately valued in curriculums mandated by the state or an outside committee.  Through these strict curriculums, teachers are allowed little leeway for creative exploits to suit their individual students’ strengths.

There is no time for creativity in schools streamlining students to earn a college degree.  What becomes important is no longer learning for the value of enriching the mind, but for the value of the courses and the grades in the eyes of a college admissions officer.

More students are attending college than ever before.  As a result, entry levels jobs require degrees where no diploma was needed before.  Schools begin manufacturing students purely to be college ready, to look good on a piece of paper for admissions.

Senior Divya Atluri said, “It is especially stressful as a senior now.  We have all the admissions deadlines on top of a full class load. There is not enough time in the day to study, finish applications, and still have time to do other things.”

The learning gets lost in a system now focused on GPA, SAT scores, class rank, and standardized tests.

Many view this as a positive shift in the school system.  Students have the opportunities to take challenging, college level courses and learn about subjects far beyond their wildest imagination.

But a widely unnoticed side effect, that keeps students awake until 2a.m. on a Tuesday and inside all weekend working, forgetting that there is in fact a life outside of school, is the stress.

Stress can be a motivator to succeed in school, but it is unhealthy in the levels present at Godwin.  Anxiety, depression, and mental illness are commonplace in students nowadays, although many cases remain undiagnosed, as many view it as just a side effect of growing up.

Sophomore Ying Yuan said, “The amount of stress in school is not healthy for students both mentally and physically.”

The mentality of the modern high school student is that stress is the norm and that the final grades are more important than the experience.

In light of all of this, it is important for students remember what school is really about: learning.  Not all that makes a student unique and valuable can be recorded on a transcript or measured in a test.

 

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©2017 Eagles' Eyrie - the school newspaper for Mills E. Godwin High School in Henrico, VA

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