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Thursday, April 1, 2010

Edition 14: Stress for students

Students are most vulnerable in terms of physical and mental stress. Hence experts always point it out that the stress among school children leads to health problems
According to one experienced teacher, “The greatest fear students have about exams is a fear of failure. They think if they fail the tests, they will fail the course! I teach my students to relax and just do the best they can, to draw on their memory of what's they've learned thus far in class, and it's not the end of the world if they don't get the marks that they expect.
“Many times, a test is a revelation to me as to whether my students have been grasping, absorbing, and understanding what's being taught, and if not, I need to go back to the drawing board and reteach it until they master it.”
That pretty well sums up the thing.
A case in point is a recent report on German radio channel Deutsche Welle. The report written by Sarah Berning says, amidst global insecurities in the job sector and high unemployment among graduates, China is looking for ways to beef up the education system. But many are critical, saying the Chinese system is tough enough on kids.
Competition is a key factor in the Chinese school system and parents push their children to be the best among their class mates. Many say this is rooted in Chinese tradition. Additional classes, which take place after school hours and on weekends have become universal in China, even for pre-schoolers.
And according to findings by Therese Hesketh's study: "Stress and psychosomatic symptoms in Chinese school children", it has been creating problems in the children's mental health.
At the start of this year, the state of Maharashtra was shocked with a series of student suicides. Alarmed at the growing number of school and junior college students taking their own lives in the state, the Maharashtra State Board of Secondary and Higher Secondary Education issued directives to its eight divisions across the state to establish counselling centres at the divisional offices and in a few schools and colleges in their jurisdiction.
The board is also contemplating on involving teachers to stop the trend. Since teachers are the ones who constantly interact with students, the department wants them to don the role of a counselor.
According to Rajesh Tope, state higher and technical education minister, “For a batch of 50 students, one teacher can act as a counselor. For this, teachers will also have to be given the necessary training. This would be applicable to all colleges.” In the opinion of the minister, Parents should also be given general counselling to ensure that they don’t pressurise children unnecessarily.
At a recent meeting between the higher education department and teachers, principals, parents, students and NGOs, suggestions were given as to how one can reduce anxiety levels among students. Now it needs to seem how this is translated into reality.
Secondary Education Needs More Focus
Secondary education is an important phase in a child’s life. It is a period when a student gradually leaves behind his or her childhood and eagerly awaits to become a young man or woman. It is an impressionable age, which means that what the child receives at this age – intellectually as well emotionally -- stays with the person for long years. The child begins to understand the difference between the good and the bad, the right and the wrong.
Hence, secondary education should impart both knowledge and values to children, stimulating their intellectual capacity as also enriching their personality. This will enable the child to grow into a sound and well-balanced personality who can confidently cope with the challenges of life as a grown-up. Both parents and teachers have important responsibility in this regard. Speaking about classrooms, the atmosphere in many schools is not quite conducive to learning as a joyful activity. These days both parents and teachers put too much stress on doing well in exams. This naturally makes studies a boring activity. By their very nature, children are creative, they like spontaneity, and they enjoy whatever they do.

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