Stress Among School Going Children
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Dear Educators, Students and Parents,
It is out of love for children and a concern for their best development, that we present this study on Stress Among School Going Children. Momentary stress from time to time is okay. It releases a hormone called cortisol in the brain – cortisol heightens brain functioning to face the momentary high challenge. But if moderate or high stress continues for long, the constant release of cortisol in the brain begins to damage brain capacities. This is termed as chronic stress. Especially among children, the effect of chronic stress is greater and many a times, long lasting. Please see a sample list of research studies on page 14 of this report.
The traditional system of education was set up by the British in the 19th Century in India and the rest of the British empire. Their assumptions were that all children are same in intelligence, personality and learning capacity; covering the syllabus should be the focus of teaching rather than understanding by the children; exams at the end of syllabus completion tell us how far the children have succeeded or failed in learning/recalling. There may be 30 to 70 children sitting in a class and teacher improperly trained and motivated. In such schools it is not the school’s problem if most children do not learn in the school; it is the problem of the child and his / her parents.
On the other hand, the 21st century approach to education, especially quality international systems, like International Baccalaureate and Vidyatree, is: each child’s intelligence, personality and speed of learning is different from the other; the number of children in a class must be such that the teacher can have a continuing relationship of serve-and-return with each child – 20 to 25 children in a classroom. Instead of ‘sudden death’ kind of exams at the completion of the syllabus, there needs to be continuous assessment and focus on what more the child needs to learn. Is is the school’s duty to properly educate each child.
We always felt that the dysfunctionality of the 19th century education system was bound to create great stress on the child and indirectly on the whole family. So to verify the difference in the two education systems scientifically, we approached some psychiatrists of the city. We were told that a cortisol test and other such tests are possible, but due to legal and cost reasons, it will be better to conduct a stress survey. We approached the Psychiatry Department of King George Medical University, Lucknow. The Professor and head of Child Psychiatry, Dr Vivek Agarwal kindly helped us with the research instrument and design. The study is restricted to private and non government-aided K-12 schools of the city of Lucknow. We present to you the significant results of that survey in this report.
BA (Hons.) Delhi University, M. Ed. Lucknow University,
C3P Columbia University, Mindfulness Coach
Founder, Vidyatree Modern World College, Lucknow
Founder, Vidyatree Foundation, Lucknow
22 March, 2015
Academic stress has been increasing significantly in a large number of children. Stress is not only perceived in higher classes but also by children in primary classes. The reasons could be the information overload, increased competitiveness, pressure from teachers and parents to perform well in studies and unrealistic expectations.
There is pressure on children right from the kindergarten to perform well and learn a lot. Children are given so much home work that they hardly get time to play or have recreational activities. Then there are problems like the way of teaching. Different children perceive things better in different ways like some children are good at listening while other at visual inputs. In our country all children are taught in similar fashion without any modification for need of different children. Those who are able to adjust to the prevailing system are promoted while those not able to adapt suffer with poor grades and humiliation.
There is too much emphasis on studies at the cost of overall development of the child. These pressures are affecting the physical and psychological well being of these children leading to overall poor outcome as an adult. Therefore it is important to study the various aspects of academic stress in different age group of children so that appropriate measures could be taken to reduce the stress in children.
The current study was planned to study the academic stress in children of different age groups in Lucknow city, to understand what areas are more stressful to them. The study has found significant number of children feeling stressed due to various aspects of academics like homework, classroom methods, examination etc. This gives an insight in to levels of stress in children. Efforts should be made to reduce the stress in children in light of the findings of the study so that they grow-up to their full potential.
Professor, Child Psychiatry, Department of Psychiatry, King George Medical University, Lucknow, India; and Editor, Journal of Indian Association for
Child and Adolescent Mental Health