A look into how a competitive classroom environment is harmful for students.
Sports is where competing should be, not in our own classrooms. In today’s society, we constantly compare ourselves to others; that rolls over into classrooms. We feel the need to be the very best at everything, to get in the best schools, but in turn it hurts our mental health.
There is a standard to get into a “good” college. You need a better than average score on the SAT, be a president of multiple clubs, and have a lot of summer internships, all by the time your senior year starts. In addition, you still need to be able to have an unforgettable experience that changes who you are as a person, not because it will help you in life but because it is something to write about in your admissions essay.
Students question why they aren’t understanding as much as their peers, or why they didn’t perform as well on the test they studied for hours on end. Eventually, this competitive nature and the balance of everything else deteriorates the student.
At the basic level, this environment can cause stress, defined as any change or pressure in the environment. To an extent, stress is healthy in moderation; it motivates the students to do better. However, according to a recent study by Johns Hopkins University, too much stress has many effects on the body and mind.
In the short term, it can cause anxiety; over long periods of time, elevated levels of stress hormones can degrade the immune system, cause heart problems, exacerbate respiratory and gastrointestinal issues and bring on chronic anxiety and depression.
This affects our work ethic, our social life and how we view our self-worth as a person into college and beyond.
High school is supposed to prepare us for our careers and college. It is not meant to destroy our self-esteem or to obliterate our love of learning.
There is no easy solution to a competitive environment and the balance of a social life since it is deeply embedded within the school culture.
Many people blame their parents and other adults for pushing them to be the very best so their children can live better lives than they had. The simple solution to this pressure is to not allow for parents or any other adults to pressure students and for people to realize that their children can choose their own path.
Nevertheless, the best solution for all these problems is letting students themselves learn to find a balance between stress and relaxation, especially when stress seems to be the more powerful force.
This is not as easy as it sounds but as students, we need to have an understanding that we are all different learners and we all do our work in our own way.
We all have the same goal to graduate. Receiving a C for someone can be an A for another. No more comparing; no more ranks.
High school should be a place of acceptance in our own abilities and for working together through the education provided to build on our knowledge.