Editor’s note: Several Delta High School students in teacher Marc Dowd’s class participated in The New York Times 5th annual Student Editorial Contest this spring. We are publishing one student’s submission in print and several others online. Go to bit.ly/TCHopstudents to see the selections.
When the stress levels of the average adult and teenager are compared, the teenager reported experiencing more stress than the adult, according to the American Psychology Association.
The level of stress a teenager faces is remarkably high because of the increasing amount of pressure students face to get good grades. If this pattern continues, society will be left with unmotivated, depressed and rebellious young adults who are likely to abuse substances and/or develop disorders.
The increased demand for early childhood development has caused parents to do something that they would not have done in the past. Toddlers are now starting to be introduced to tutoring before they start kindergarten. When children are in a classroom before they officially start school, they miss out on learning how to interact with kids their age. They lose the memories of helping mom cook dinner or going on playdates, all because they were in a classroom before they were out of diapers.
Society and parents are putting too much attention on being “smart” and getting straight A’s every semester. From SAT scores, report cards and state tests, students quickly realize that their academic success is who they are. A teacher once told me, “You are so much more than a grade. I have seen my daughters grow up believing that they were the grade they received on a piece of paper, and I refuse to see my students believe that too.”
If a student has not been getting good grades, it is not solely because they are academically behind. Often, it also is because they are lacking the motivation to put forth the effort.
In such a case, paying children to get good grades puts them in the right headspace to try to succeed in school. But in many cases, paying a child for grades would work only in the short term. However, in the long term, children will begin to expect money for every grade they receive or begin to lose the value of their reward.
Parents are unconsciously pushing their kids farther away from them and their child’s success. It is not that parents need to stop caring about their child’s grades, but if a parent becomes overbearing it may affect the way their child views failure.
Parents and children need to recognize that success is not the only way to learn.