Pressured to Death (EDITORIAL)

Illustration by Daniel Torraca
Illustration by Daniel Torraca

Mikaela Reinard, Contributing Columnist

Depression, suicide, addiction and a loss of hope are just a few of the many symptoms mentioned in interviews of children from kindergarten through the 12th grade in the documentary Race to Nowhere.  The documentary casts a spotlight on the need of reform in our school system, intended for the fruitful minds of young people ages 5-17, when our current system is for no person of that age.

All of the pressure on students to be the best in every subject, take the most challenging courses regardless of their passions, and maintain an extracurricular schedule compiled of sports, volunteer service, hobbies, work and internships is absolutely preposterous. Speaking from personal experience, I know the feeling of being overwhelmed can often times be far too much to handle at such a young age.

Illustration by Daniel Torraca
Illustration by Daniel Torraca

During my junior year of high school, I would incessantly stay up till 4-5 a.m. struggling to get all of my homework done.  I ended up relying on 5 Hour Energy to keep me awake. I felt trapped in a cyclical trance of worried about disappointing myself and others around me if I didn’t complete all the tasks at hand.

My senior year, I received bad news incessantly regarding people I had known  killing themselves as an escape from the insurmountable pressure they were being exposed to.

According to a study conducted by Indiana University over the last two decades U.S. lawmakers and business leaders have placed more pressure on schools to raise achievement rates to suppress worries regarding global competition in academic success.

Sarah Bennett, a New York City lawyer, stated in the CQ Researcher, “piles of homework dim children’s love of learning –while depriving them of vital free time –without improving their school achievement.” She also expresses that “polls say that kids no longer read for pleasure after age 8.”

Despite incessant cries from students who slave over the pressures of society to be considered for a slot in a selective university or entry-level full time job, a staggering 56 percent of parents still believe that students ages 5-17 need to have more pressure inflicted on them in preparation of life.  

Only 15 percent of parents feel as though students are under too much pressure. With such a minute sliver of parents who feel this way, it’s quite possible that there will be even more pressure added to the lives of these students. If they can barely cope now, how will they in the future?

From 1997 to 2002, the proportion of six to eight year olds that were assigned homework on a daily basis rose from 34 percent to 64 percent.  

There’s too much pressure being placed on students, and although pressure isn’t necessarily a bad thing, too much of it can be detrimental. Making sure a child has the opportunities and proper tools to succeed is important. It’s even more important to ensure that they’ll be able to see the day past their 18th birthday.

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