Extended Thoughts on the Education System

Okay, so I know I did an article on why school is hell and I think I put up a couple of points about it, but there was so much more I wanted to say and due to time constraints I wasn’t able to, so consider this a more serious article. This is my genuine opinion, not much comedy in here whatsoever, more or less my blunt, unedited opinion. I’ve genuinely done some research for this, I just wanted to get a number of points across.

Now thanks to the ever-growing burden of society that is Facebook, I saw something my friend had shared. This can be seen below. Give it a read.

Now much like I did with my Anita Sarkeesian analysis, I thought I’d do an analysis of this, mainly because there’s a number of points I want to go over and can use this as a basis for my points.

“Waiting for all that anxiety and panic”. I know the feeling. I get panic-y and anxiety ridden while at school, it’s a horrible feeling. It’s why in classes I keep myself to myself and don’t answer questions (which is mentioned further on in the article). The fact that this is affecting me, the person who wrote this and many, many, many others, you should probably think that something’s wrong with the schooling system. I’ll expand on this point later, as does the paragraph.

“almost every teenager ever is so stressed with school that they pray for disaster or fake illness or try to kill themselves.” Another point many of us can relate too. I’ve woken up in the morning or gone to sleep just hoping to God it’d snow or be a bank holiday. Luckily my immune system is built out of crisp packets and held together with glue, so I can get plenty of time off. But why do I not want to go to school? Because school is a horrific place to be in. The place is filled with people you don’t want to speak to or socialise with because they’re awful, the amount of stress from deadlines, homework, revision and exams is also too much for some people, I know it is for me. Now luckily I have lots of different friends in lots of different groups but I know for a lot of people it’s difficult to be arsed with school when you’re in a room full of people you hate, learning a subject you don’t give a shit about.

“my grades are more important than my mental health right?” This seems to be the common thing I hear around schools. Schools are buildings where people go to learn. Their main aim is to get the largest amount of good grades so their score for Ofcom increases or something like that. Obviously it’s difficult for the teachers to be able to care personally about each and every individual person. Again, I’m lucky enough to have the majority of my teachers understand the problems I have and how I’m dealing with them and it’s helpful that they’re supportive of me and understand if I haven’t done my homework or if I’m struggling with the work at school.

Still doesn’t stop them from setting a hell of a lot of homework though. Now I understand that home learning is important, especially in Year 11, my exams are in just under a month, I haven’t started revising yet because I’m too busy trying to balance my life. Let’s think about it mathematically.

If you’re set, let’s say about four hours of homework for the weekend (which is about right for me), I need to be able to balance the homework, social life (or lack of it due to my busy schedule), family life, the blog, writing for Updownright, relaxation time, my job(s), my sleep (or lack of it) and on top of that I’m also expected to revise every subject I’ve taken and learn everything about every one of them so I can pass my GCSEs. I don’t have the time. I don’t really think teachers understand that we need breaks and we’re extremely stressed out.

I’m at the point now where I’ll do the homework and half arse it before the lesson, I don’t have the time to do it at home. I get to school at 8 a.m. due to time constraints on my parents, I leave school at 3 p.m. Now that’s 7 hours of school. I get a half hour lunch break and a fifteen minute break after my first two periods. That’s still 6 hours, 15 minutes of work. You could argue that I only do 5, however every day when I get in I work from 8 – 11, fifteen minute break, another hour, lunch, two more hours. By the time I get home I’m knackered.

For a long while now my nights have consisted of me getting in, dumping my bag on the floor, grabbing something to eat and sitting upstairs watching TV. I am unbelievably tired. The amount of work done plus the lack of sleep has basically left me a caffeine fuelled mess. It’s why I drink so much Coca Cola, not just because of the amazing taste that you can get from this lovely drink (Only 2 for £2 at Asda, buy now!) but because the caffeine in it keeps me awake, which is having a major impact on my diet. School is the root cause of many different problems for many different people.

It’s different for everyone, but that’s how it is for me. People will go through similar things to me, some may go through completely opposite ends of the spectrum to me, but no matter what happens, it’s going to have an impact on how you’re life outside of school is, you’re sleeping pattern and more. I’ve heard of people staying up all night and doing work and that really isn’t healthy. It doesn’t matter if it’s in for tomorrow, sleep is priority. I don’t want to turn this into a life advice thing because out of the 7.125 Billion people in this god forsaken planet, I am the least qualified out of them all to give life advice. But listen up anyway.

Do not put your education before your mental health, or any health at all for that matter. Your education is important, but not when it’s putting you on the verge of a mental breakdown. It’s not healthy, if you are feeling like this then talk to someone about it, friends, family, a teacher you trust, hell, even a counsellor and make sure you’re doing alright. If you’re stressed, put the work away, listen to a podcast and just relax, do something you enjoy. If your anxiety is going haywire, try to make it easier for yourself. If you can, let someone know that you’re not doing too good, that way if you need to leave, you’ve got someone to help you out.

Anyway, back to the paragraph.

“no teachers care about kids mental health issues today” I both agree and disagree with this statement. I agree because some of them don’t, that’s understandable, they go to school, teach and then leave, they have to mark books, exams and coursework and obviously they’re under a lot of pressure too, it’s not really their job to care. But at the same time I disagree with it because, like I mentioned before hand, many, if not all of my teachers understand what’s up and are a lot more lenient when it comes to work as they understand that I have limits. Everyone has their limits though, and that’s what teachers need to understand. There’s no point in giving us more and more work if you don’t know whether or not we understand it in the first place or will be able to manage completing it for the deadline.

“afraid to answer questions out loud in class” Yeah same here to be honest actually. I’m not sure how people build up the confidence to have a 50/50 chance of being right or wrong, but somehow they do it. I just don’t have the confidence to answer a question, mainly because half the people in the class hate me or vice versa, so if I get an answer to a question wrong I’m going to look like a right twat aren’t I? However, I do answer questions in History, I’m confident in that and my teacher does this thing where whatever point you make he’s able to expand on it, which really helps when you feel like you’ve done the wrong thing and he turns round and comes up with a pretty decent point as to why it’s right. I mean, I usually do, but to a different extent in this scenario.

“would rather get an “F” on a project because she doesn’t want to present it in front of the class.” I have a huge problem with this. I hate presenting my work. It’s easier on a blog because there’s a form of wall dividing me and the reader. I publish my work, people read it, I don’t write it as people read it, which means initially there’s a lot more room for me to make errors, spelling mistakes and slip up on my typing. In a presentation to the class, I don’t know anyone who hasn’t felt awkward as hell.

I remember my old RE teacher, don’t get me wrong, he was absolutely amazing, quite honestly the greatest teacher I’ve ever had the pleasure of being taught by and my grade was raised from a borderline C to an A*. We had to present, something, to the entire class. I spoke to him about my troubles with doing so and he said it was mandatory. We did one lesson and only three groups presented. One of which, was mine. I sat behind the computer, pretending to read from the board, skimming through a slideshow I’d prepared that very morning. The whole ordeal was a disaster and I just felt so awkward.

Another example is English and Drama. Don’t even get me started on this. Even though the next paragraph is going to be about this. In Year 9, I was in the highest set for English, constant A*’s, it’s what made me eventually strive for a writing career. Now, a big portion of English in Year 9 for some reason was Drama. Somehow, the drama we did was mandatory and was the give or take option to staying in the highest set and buggering off into a lower set. I’m about as confident an actor as the actors in Birdemic: Shock and Terror. It was horrifying, I hate stuff like drama, I’d prefer to be behind the scenes, writing the stuff. Well, seeing as though I couldn’t do drama, I was dropped a set, as did my grades. The following year, I dropped another set. From there I’m now in second set getting A*’s, the majority of the highest set are getting C’s and B’s, yet I haven’t been moved up another set.

This may sound like me complaining, which I am, but it just shows how unjustly stupid the whole set system is. I’m not one to blow my own trumpet (well, I am) but I’d say my literature and language skills are a lot more advanced than my entire class and the higher set. That makes me sound like an egotistical prick, which I am, but school seems to be this constant battle of “your grade shows how good you are”, which is very upsetting when you get the low grades or are dropped a set for no real good reason. It’s horrible, but I suppose I’m almost back to where I once was, pretty much the best at English in the entire year group, hell, in the entire United Kingdom, but pretty much in the wrong set. However the teacher I have is great so that rant was useless.

“I wonder if teachers even realise that some of the students sitting in their class have serious mental health illnesses and are collapsing under all of the pressure that they put on them”. I’d say that this is also extremely true, in some cases. Some teachers obviously don’t understand what’s going on for every individual, and that’s because it’s not their job to care. They aren’t being paid to do anything like that. Yeah, I suppose that’s not fair, but that’s the system we live in. A broken system at that.

As much as I would like to fix the system we live in, there’s nothing I can do about it. I want a career in writing or teaching, so hopefully if I do become a teacher then I’m not like this, but the problem is the amount of work we get and then trying to balance it with social lives and then being expected to drop everything to focus on work.

I know a hell of a lot of people are tired, me included, but we’ve just got to push through this because there’s nothing that can be done. We can just refuse to work though, which isn’t going to help you in the long run really.

“I don’t feel more educated when I get home, I feel exhausted and messed up”. It’s genuinely scary how many people go through this. The fact that so many people go through this should be enough to warrant a change in the system. Apparently not though, if only there were some evidence for students being given medication to manage their stress, anxiety and depression…

There you go.


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