De-stressing schools

Published On: May 6, 2018 12:09 AM NPT By: Shiba Datta Gnawali

Shiba Datta Gnawali

Shiba Datta Gnawali

The contributor for Republica.

If students are guided well by parents and teachers, they will be able to make their academic dreams come true. 

School education (from Grade I to XII) marks an important turning point in academic life of students.  But as students’ educational requirements become more stringent they experience stress, which stems from the gap between our expectations and reality. This stress arises due to demands on students from outside sources, such as family, school, relatives and friends. Academic, financial and health factors brew up a perfect storm of stress in students’ minds and they fail to achieve the goals they set.  

Academic stress arises from parental pressure for high performances, constant anxiety of grades, competitions etc. This situation may lead students to take wrong decisions or even addiction of alcohol and drugs. In Nepal, higher grades are considered as a passport for higher studies, particularly in the field of Medicine and Engineering. This makes our students obsessed with idea of achieving better grades, by fair or foul means.  

School, family and society cause academic stress.  Too much home-works, exam pressures, poor academic performance, competition with friends, poor interpersonal relationship with teachers and friends,  heavy contents to master in a limited time, unscientific academic evaluation procedure, high student-teacher ratio, unhealthy teacher-student interaction, ineffective teaching methodology, poor reading habits of students, high expectations of parents and teachers come as a source of agony for students.  
The family status, socio-economic status and marital discord in the family also lead to stress in adolescents. 

Parents and school play an important role in cognitive, social and emotional development of children.  They are, therefore, supposed to be aware of their children’s behaviors, interests, abilities and emotions.  They must build trust with their children, pay respect to their interests, encourage them to express their feelings and maintain healthy friendship. They should teach children about harmful effects of drugs, inspire them to read extra books and newspapers and help them engage in sports because they have therapeutic effects on students.  The more they share their problems with parents and teachers, the better they will understand each other.  

When we see that students do not communicate much, prefer isolation, worry a lot and do not concentrate on studies and thus fail to complete assignments on time, lose temper or change eating and sleeping habits, we should know that they are suffering from academic stress. So what should be done?  

Students can reduce stress if they are encouraged to manage time wisely, get organized, eat healthy food, have enough sleep, develop optimism, do regular exercises (Yoga, meditation) and surround themselves with supportive people. They should be taught to adapt to life’s unavoidable realities, know their limits, be realistic about themselves, maintain a positive mental attitude, and build up sound interpersonal relationship with family, school and friends.  Students are not supposed to set themselves on fire to keep other people warm.

Parents and schools should let the children go ahead as per their interests and abilities without imposing on them their interests.  It is not the load that may break students down, but the way they are carrying it.  Students must be strong enough to handle their challenges skillfully, wise enough to find solutions to the problems, and capable enough of doing whatever needs to be done.  

Students are not robots. If students are guided well by parents and teachers as per their abilities, they will be able to make their academic dreams come true without any stress. Albert Einstein once said: “Everybody is a genius.  But if a fish is judged by the ability to climb a tree … it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”

The author is Founder Principal of Universal College, Kathmandu 

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