There is so much pressure amongst students in schools to not only excel academically but to also participate in sports, extra-curricular activities, and community service. This pressure on students has gone unrecognized and is now an alarming problem. It is an alarming problem because parents and teachers are realizing that there are consequences occurring due to this immense pressure on students in schools. The pressure comes from parents who want the best for their children, from hours of homework that students are responsible for getting done on a daily basis, constant tests, standardized tests, and grades that must meet college and individual standards.
Colleen Wenke wrote about one consequence of pressure that has progressively been dragged into the community of schools and now become natural in the minds of students. Wenke wrote about cheating, any form of it: copying homework, cheating on tests, and plagiarism. “The people who were cheating were doing the best in all my classes. I would study for hours and still pull B’s. They would pull A’s.” Wenke wrote about her own experience in high school; cheaters were ahead, hard workers were struggling. What Wenke couldn’t understand was why something that was taught to be wrong was so heavily accepted not just by her peers but by herself as well. She would find it natural to copy a friend’s homework when she forgot it. It wasn’t very often and she was solid on her dislike of cheating, yet when she needed to, it wasn’t a big deal. The theory is that the excess amount of homework a student gets a night completely masks the ability to retain information or doesn’t allow for enough time to complete all the homework. Therefore, students have resulted to cheating because it’s more important to get the grade than to learn.
In the movie “Race to Nowhere” there were many consequences of pressure on students that were mentioned and evaluated. The two consequences that stood out the most were the physical and emotional problems students were undergoing as they fought to be successful in their high school career. Students nowadays are dealing with more competition to get into 4-year universities than they ever have before. Having a high GPA and applying you in all aspects seems to be the only way to get noticed by colleges; 5 AP classes, 3 sports a year, Key Club and Student Council, and community service on weekends. The Dean of students at Stanford University stated, “Students should only challenge themselves and get involved in things they are truly interested in. If English is there favorite subject, take AP English. If it isn’t, don’t take it just for the GPA boost.” If you look at the typical schedule of an A and B student, you will see their schedule filled with honors, AP, and dual enrollment courses. If you ask them why they are taking it, they will tell you it’s because they look great on college applications. The question is, do they take anything from these classes?
As far as the physical consequences that come along with pressure on students, there are parents who have noticed that their children are suffering from physical illnesses; more children are complaining that they were getting headaches from school and stomach aches. There are even cases of students having to be sent to stress institutions or emergency rooms because of stress-induced trauma. I can relate to every single one of these consequences and I have no doubt that almost every other student can as well.
My increase in homework began in the 7th grade. I was probably up until midnight once a week struggling to finish homework, which was nothing compared to what I suffered 8th grade year and up. In the 8th grade, I thought way too much about my future. My mind was racing day and night bumping up my anxiety for what was to come of me and how I needed to handle myself in high school. Freshman year wasn’t nearly as bad as 8th grade and I didn’t worry much coming into sophomore year. Sophomore year, the courses got more challenging, stretching my mind to learn things I had never been associated with. Junior year, this year, has been the most challenging, stress-induced, and self-doubting year of my life. After about 9 weeks through my junior year, I started to feel the exhaustion. My capacity for stress was at its max and I could no longer hold my eyes open during class, let alone while I was behind the wheel of my car. I had barely been driving for 4 months and I could and can already say that I have fallen asleep behind the wheel of my vehicle.
In high school, there is a fall out of correlation between homework and understanding. High school students should only have 2 hours at most for homework because after that, it’s not homework, its busy work that students don’t take anything from. I never had to be checked into a stress institution, or taken to the ER for stomach pains, but inside, I was like bomb. My time was running out and I knew that I wasn’t going to be able to last much longer. I never spoke to anyone about my struggles; I only had a few mental breakdowns at school and in front of my parents. I had thought about giving up. I was constantly thinking about what would happen if I committed suicide. I would be in a better place, away from pains and pressures. I still suffer with these consequences daily that pressure lies upon our lives as students. My English class had a discussion on the pressure that we go through and the possible solutions to rid our schools of these consequences we see from pressure. AP teacher at a high school cut the homework in half for his AP students and found that AP scores went up. “What is the purpose of homework,” he had asked, “There is none.”
In high school, there is a fall out of correlation between homework and understanding. High school students should only have 2 hours at most for homework because after that, it’s not homework, its busy work that students don’t take anything from. When students can’t retain the information through homework assignments, what is the point of giving them more, only to stress the children out. “From the very beginning, it was obvious that the district doesn’t care about student learning, they only care about the test scores.” A teacher from a high school in California stated this. Schooling in the United States needs to change in order for kids to LEARN. If we continue doing what we are doing today, we will only see more and more health problems in our future generations. I am motivated to do something about the pressure students suffer. I have experienced it, my friends have experienced it, and now I am aware that there are so many more out there just like me struggling and someone needs to stand up for students of this generation and future generations or we are going to continue to watch our children crack and crack until their mind and body is a broken puzzle of physical and emotional pain.