Global Education Pressures - How do we fix the problem?
Around the world, students face the pressures of school on a day-to-day basis. Education is a necessary and fundamental component that allows us to flourish as individuals, and eventually get an occupation of our own to support ourselves. There are still some faults within the education systems globally that create a hard, stress-induced environment, especially in schools. Today, we explore different parts of the world and the impacts that education has on students, and the pressures that are involved.
With the inclusion of Common Core, the AP, the International Baccalaureate Program, and many other programs that enhance education in the United States, there comes a lot of pressure that goes along with it. Education seems to become a competition to a degree, with especially the United States trying to better their own education and have “smarter” individuals than China. How do they try to make this happen? Up the ante with Common Core and other programs. Although these programs may be beneficial, they are extremely stress inducing. I myself have taken loads of AP and IB courses, and understand the stress that high school students may have. However, the preparation for college is worth it all. I felt so much more prepared for college with these programs. Add college into the mix: class, homework, studying, going out, and trying to have fun. That’s a hard balance. BALANCE is a clear struggle for North American students, and that is where that pressure is coming from. Having a balanced schedule is imperative to success, especially in a university environment.
High schools in China and other Asian countries are especially committed to hard work as a form of dedication to schooling. As a result, long school days (typically from around 7 am to 4 pm) for 5-6 days a week with the addition of homework provide a framework for success in Asian countries. Compared to the US, they may beat them in terms of hours spent doing work and schooling. With greater focus on math, science, and Asian studies, it provides a different methodology for teaching, with problem-solving being a main skill. This goes on through college and beyond, as the demand for education rises in this continent. Essentially, there is a major emphasis on educational achievement with which there comes a price to be paid. Long, exhausting days of work are stressful, and with the addition of increased stress levels, their mental health could spiral.
Students in Europe are just as likely to experience stress in school. Countries like France have a core curriculum akin to what students have in the United States, and several nations across the continent have national exams. For example, ninth graders in France take the brévet de collège, while specialized students in Germany take apprenticeship and specialization exams, as well as meisterprüfungs (master examinations) to become masters in their fields. According to recent studies, European students see a direct relationship between their performance in school and the jobs that will be available to them after graduation. That is, the better they do in school, the better the job opportunities will be. While this creates an incentive for success, this correlation can also give students a large feeling of pressure. The number of students who felt stressed in Sweden spiked from 52% in 2007 to 70% in 2010, and 61% of Austrian students reportedly suffered from stress as well. According to a recent study in Germany, students felt that academic expectations were too high, and that their education’s lack of practical relevance was a large source of stress.
How do we fix the problem?
With constant tests, homework, textbook readings, and quizzes coming up, here are a few things that you can do to help relieve the stress of school, while still prioritizing your education.
Take study breaks: Don’t try to cram in reading a textbook for three hours. Giving yourself little breaks in between study sessions allows your mind to refresh, as well as your sanity.
Space out your work: Don’t save everything until the last minute. Complete assignments little by little and set a realistic schedule to complete them by their deadlines.
Get organized: Cluttered desks and minds are no good for studying. Create a system that helps you take notes and keep track of important due dates.
Exercise: This is not only a distraction, but helps your body to reduce stress levels and let those endorphins out.
Eat healthy: A healthy mind can be strengthened by a healthy body, taking in healthy food.
Sleep: Sleep at least 8 hours a day. Waking up groggy and surviving on caffeine will not help you in the long run, and it will be harder to be focused if you don’t sleep.
Try stress management techniques: There are several different ways to relax. Whether it’s taking a hot shower or doing mindful meditation, there’s something for everyone.
Let yourself have fun! Go out, hang out with friends, have a night in, or just watch a movie. Giving your mind a break is ESSENTIAL to good mental health!
Unfortunately, it looks like no matter where you are in the world, stress is a part of education. Deadlines and hefty assignments can be intimidating, and the process of applying to schools and taking entrance exams is daunting. However, it’s important to remember that you are not your grades. You are a human being, made up of many attributes that are more important than an A on a transcript. You should always strive to do your best in school, but forgive yourself for your shortcomings. It’s impossible to get 100% on everything, so be the best YOU can be and get excited by the topics that interest you. By working hard and being kind to yourself, there’s nothing you can’t do.