For those of us who have journeyed with our kids through high school, we realize that many of the emotions they experienced were more negative than positive. There may have been many different reasons including not enjoying the schoolwork or the problems with their friends or teachers. Often parents do not know what to say or do in these moments.
A recent study by researchers from the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence and the Yale Child Study Center found the majority of students reported that their feelings related to school were negative. Here are some quotes from the summary article written by Brita Belli in the Yale News:
In a nationwide survey of 21,678 U.S. high school students, researchers from the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence and the Yale Child Study Center found that nearly 75% of the students’ self-reported feelings related to school were negative.
“It was higher than we expected,” said co-author and research scientist Zorana Ivcevic. “We know from talking to students that they are feeling tired, stressed, and bored, but were surprised by how overwhelming it was.”
In the open-ended responses, the most common emotion students reported was tired (58%). The next most-reported emotions — all just under 50% — were stressed, bored, calm, and happy. The ratings scale supported the findings, with students reporting feeling stressed (79.83%) and bored (69.51%) the most.
At a time where our students are supposed to be at the stage of life of growth, learning and some optimism we are finding that for them school is a negative place. Stressed, bored, overwhelmed and fatigued are some of the emotions that are consistently expressed. I think any of us would think that something must be wrong if that is the prominent set of emotions. We now have consistent research that reflects these negative feelings with some validity.
I think this research and feedback is something that educators need to look at seriously. The early start times, some of the extreme stress and the general emotional and relational environments in our schools are all possible contributors to some of the issues that are experienced by our students. Perhaps it would be good for all of us who are educators to listen and learn from our students, build stronger relationships with them and provide environments that are designed for learning and motivation.
The solution is not simple and yes, school work is challenging, but perhaps we should consider a later start to a student’s day, create less undo stress and work towards a healthy emotional and relational space for them. What ever happened to the pure joy of learning? I hope we make some progress in our educational system so that our students are inspired and motivated rather than stressed and fatigued. It would be a change that could make a huge difference in their high school experience and future life success.