Stress has taken over the lives of many Irvington students.

By Ayush Patel and Shannon Tseng | Staff Writers

Everything is a race. Projects are no longer opportunities to learn cooperation; they’re only obstacles in the way of success. Tests are no longer tools to assess academic progress; they’re merely threats to GPAs. We live in a culture of achievement, conditioned by our society and constantly pressured to strive for better grades. We’re pushed to be perfect, compelled either by our parents or ourselves. We’ve become blind to the true purpose of education. We must fix this misconstrued view, and who better to fix this problem than educators themselves? Teachers’ jobs are to instruct students to become better members of society. As educators and mentors of our generation, teachers should take a more active role in teaching students to cope with stress.

According to a survey of over 1400 Irvington students conducted last spring, the majority of the student population struggles with stress management. About 80% of Irvington students show symptoms of moderate to severe anxiety, and more than half of the student body shows symptoms of severe depression.

“I would say that [these numbers] are definitely high,” school psychologist Samantha Briggs said. “They’re really concerning. Dr. Slavin, the stress surveyor, found that these scores are actually higher than some of the scores from students in a competitive medical school.”

Students aren’t able to manage stress since they don’t have the experience to fully understand what stress is, while teachers can draw from an entire bank of life experience and knowledge. Students need teachers to guide and help them deal with academic stress. By openly talking about stress in class, teachers can help students learn more about themselves and about coping mechanisms. As educators, they are responsible for ensuring that their students have the tools needed to combat stress. Many students complain about their massive amounts of homework, but reducing stress at Irvington doesn’t require lessening workloads; instead, teaching students how to effectively manage stress and time could leave a big impact.

One way teachers could do so is by providing more class time to complete homework assignments. For example, QUEST is a huge stressor for seniors because of the daunting number of assignments it entails; however, allowing sufficient class time to work on the project would provide students a focused learning environment and leave less of a burden at home. Another benefit of working during class is ease of access to teachers; questions can be resolved on the spot, eliminating panic from lack of time, the second largest stressor according to Dr. Slavin’s survey.

“I think it would be a good idea to spend more class time on assignments, especially large projects,” QUEST co-coordinator Mr. Phillips said. “We need to be available to our students so when they have problems they can talk to us about it, and it is sometimes a challenge being available after school.”

Our future is molded by influential roles from our lives. We should learn for the sake of learning instead of stressing about scores and letter grades, and we can only do so with the aid of our teachers. In a culture where grades are valued more than education, we’ve lost sight of the true purpose of learning: to expand our knowledge and better ourselves.