In three out of my five classes this week, we have discussed anxiety in education. Today my English professor challenged the class to think about why our generation of students are complacent and non-rebellious. He mentioned how we all complete our homework and jump through the hoops put in front of us. But that is exactly why we are so good; we have been coached our entire life to jump through the hoops educators put in front of us.
My generation has been groomed to believe that if we follow the rules of our education system then we will succeed. Do your homework: get an A (hopefully) in the class. Get a good grade on your SAT to get into a good college. However we also heard threats of if you don’t take your studies seriously then you CAN’T succeed.
We were put in high pressure performing situations so earlier in our lives. In the third grade, as nine year olds, we had to take our first standardized test. The test was presented in a way of if you don’t pass then you can’t move on to the next grade. The government is telling children you better work hard and pass or you’ll be a failure. We heard this from our first test state mandated tests from 3rd grade to subject tests in high school. Each test mattered, you had only one chance to pass. That one day and one test determine your worth in the system. ARE YOU KIDDING ME? This is why anxiety is affiliated with schools. So much pressure is put on children at such a young age in our country’s education system.
Not only was standard testing stressful but regular course loads can be stressful. My peers and I have been told that we need the best degree from the best school to get into the best graduate school. Our educational dream is already defined for us. This “best” education is putting all the students in one box in which none of us fit in. This predestined path that is shoved down our throats is supposed to be achievable. Students feel like if they struggle to meet the path then they are defined as a disappointment.
While, yes, I have accomplished my goal of getting into UNC, the anxiety in the classroom is still prevalent today. Rarely will you have a conversation with a fellow student without the word stressed or tired being mentioned. When I was writing this blog I asked my roommate her opinion on anxiety in schools. She automatically spoke of her test anxiety saying “Here [at UNC] tests define who you are and your grade and how other people view you.” UNC is an amazing school where I feel so blessed to attend but the pressure to succeed here is suffocating at times. We all work so hard to accomplish our goals here, working endless hours on assignments, but I think in all of the pressure put on us, the enjoyment of education is lost. The country is straddling this line of education becoming a chore to kids, and it is up to us to change it.