I am by no means saying that the structure of education as it is now needs to be drastically changed in order to suit everyone’s very individual needs; I am simply stating that one major cause of anxiety within education is simply the lack of understanding as to what can cause the anxiety. The education system needs to allow authoritative figures to understand and help students who fall into anxiety due to the amount of pressure placed on students to exceed in multiple, extremely different areas.
However, I am far from the belief that the relationship between education and anxiety is all doom and gloom because in certain areas the education system can be seen to actually try to help lessen the impact of this problem.
This can mainly be seen as in the higher stages of a student’s education they can use far more control in choosing the subjects that they wish to study. This, luckily, is used when you as students make the choices which affect your qualifications, mainly GCSE’s, A-Levels and then onto degree level. However this still does not avoid the stress placed on students in early levels of the curriculum.
From my own experiences, the main piece of advice that I would give is simply that students in this current education system have to mature much faster than they have before. This is because in order to avoid higher levels of stress as a student from even the age of 13 in Year Nine you have to be highly aware of the subjects that you like and the subjects that you do not in order to make choices that will benefit your further education.
However, the problem circulates in the fact that even the pressure of making these decisions at such an early age can cause its own fair share of anxiety. This can seem like a situation that students can’t seem to win.
Therefore the fact that education is a high pressure situation cannot be avoided and for many students this can cause a huge amount of anxiety, however, I believe that this problem can be spread out across pupils, parents and teachers in order to help education be what it is supposed to be, a beneficial aspect of life which opens doors to students to succeed later in life.
My general advice would be that in order to make education the cause of less anxiety everyone needs to play a part. Students are, obviously, the ones who are in control of their own minds and bodies. They are the ones who are aware first when they are uncomfortable in a certain situation so, I believe, that if more students (no matter what age they may be) are comfortable enough to be able to make staff and parents aware of the way they are feeling towards their education, then the areas that need attention will be more easily visible and easier to fix.
I understand that in the high pressure world of education staff can be under their own cloud of stress and anxiety, but I feel that a more stable friendly working relationship between pupil and teacher, similar to the one which I experienced at Sixth Form, is vital to both pupil and teacher feeling more comfortable and at ease with their situations. It was relationships like this that I especially enjoyed about my time at Sixth Form and I found that the transition and work load was easier to manage as I felt comfortable talking to my teachers.
Parents also need to be able to help in this situation. While students are going through high levels of anxiety and stress at school of course they need to be supported at home. However there is a vital aspect to this which I feel many people may miss. When education gets stressful, students will try to find an aspect of their lives which they can escape to, somewhere where they are not constantly asked about the decisions that they have to make at school and somewhere where they can forget everything for a little while. Most students want this place to be their home however anxiety can be made worse if parents place too much constant pressure on students to constantly talk about school, remember that all they want is a simple break from the anxiety and stress they may feel each and every day.
As I said at the start of this article, this article offers a more general view on the relationship between anxiety and education. In my next article I will start to be more specific focusing on my current experiences in university.