Not to be the image of the rough old guy snarling at sensitive children, but if this, from a Linda Borg in the Providence Journal, is actually meant to be news about which we’re supposed to be concerned, then perhaps we mostly need to be concerned about the sorts of people who think that this is news about which we’re supposed to be concerned:
Half of all public high school students in Rhode Island say school is quite stressful.
More than 70 percent say they frequently or almost always worry about grades.
Sixty-three percent are really worried about things in their life.
Teenagers are living in a state of constant anxiety, according to a new survey from the R.I. Department of Education that gathered 83,000 responses from students in all grades, including 55,600 responses from grades 6 through 12.
School should be stressful for students — not unduly, out of proportion with the actual significance of any given matter, but as a general proposition. Students ought to see their education as something that matters a lot and failure as something that can have real consequences. And, moreover, failure in terms of grading ought to be a true possibility.
A central problem of our modern society is summed up very well in the apparent inclination to address stress by removing stressors rather than dealing with them. And, no, that doesn’t mean learning how to express your feelings to a person who’s stressing you out so that he or she can change his or her behavior (or be forced to do so by some authority). It doesn’t mean reworking a school system’s means of testing and holding students accountable so they can never feel like they’ve fallen short.
It means coming to an understanding of our lives that can accommodate stress and turn it into motivation.