Over the past month, I’ve been working with an amazing group of high school students on THRIVE. I continue to be amazed with their insights and thoughtfulness. Today, I’d like to share two posts. The assignment was to write something on a topic that meant something to them — and they did. Take a read.
Measuring Success by Ethan
I’m not sure how different the rest of the world is compared to the United States, but in my experience, the American education system is not as spectacular or successful as one might think.
Here in the Bay Area at least, I’ve been exposed to the stressful world since the start of middle school. I remember how miserable and sad I felt at the end of the first trimester of 6th grade because I had 2 B’s on my progress report card. The thing that made me feel like a failure was not the grades, but it was instead my parents who scolded me for not meeting their expectations of achieving all A’s. And to make things worse, one of my B’s was in math class — a subject that I should have naturally excelled in. After their harsh reactions, I never looked at B’s the same way again. To me, B’s signified flaws and errors that landed people in low-paying jobs without a successful future…at least that’s what my parents promised me. From that moment on, I have never been able to truly live a stress-free day.
The pressure that parents, teachers, and schools put on children can be brutal. Piles of homework are assigned to students every night, which prevent quality time with family or time to recover from the day. And what is the purpose of this? In the eyes of most American adults, the increase in homework gives students more tools and resources to “learn” the information, which will hopefully boost their scores on assessments. I’m wondering if this idea is harmful and unbeneficial for students, because they sacrifice their overall health in an attempt to please their parents.
The moment a student receives a B or whatever is deemed to be a “bad” grade, parents may worry that their child will be unsuccessful in life because of how competitive everyone else is working to be the best. Parents’ intentions to be hard on their children might be a way to express their love because they want them to struggle early on in life so that they can easily adjust to the real world. However, to a kid, it may not feel like love. The extreme standards of their parents may lead students to neglect self-care and overall health.
At the end of the day, As and Bs are just letters that really have no major impact on determining who’s more successful in life. And Bs (or Cs or Ds) aren’t necessarily bad. Rather, they show people things they can change or improve (“mistakes”) — things that everyone experiences — so that they can improve the next time. I’m wondering: what if parents and society change their attitudes towards children and learning to a more supportive platform? No student deserves to endure the emotional and mental suffering of trying to achieve all As (at the expense of health) in order to be considered successful in life.
Advice on New Beginnings by Nicole
I came to America in 2017 and it’s been hectic. Sometimes I feel like a baby giraffe learning how to walk for the first time.
I have no regrets — I love being here with my mom and family, I love my school, I love all the people I’ve met and the friends I’ve made, and I love all the places I’ve been to and things I’ve experienced. Sometimes I miss my dad, friends, and the life I left behind, but then I remember the new one I’m making and it reminds me that the experience is worth it.
I used to believe that when I came here, I’d have to start over and build my life from scratch — and it did feel that way for a while, the confidence and courage I’d worked so hard to build before seemed to be gone. But then I had an epiphany: “Why do I have to do that? Who says I’m starting all over, at the beginning?”. I realized that I’ve been building my character already, and now all I’m doing is adding onto it all these new experiences.
To all those who feel like they’re starting over again, whether it’s entering high school, college, moving to a new place, or some other big change, please remind yourself that yes, you have already built some foundation, and now everything new is just adding to that. I know it can be hard to stay grounded because as things change, you change or you try to adapt to what’s around you, but everything we’ve experienced is an accumulation of who we are. Sometimes we might want a clean slate — and that’s totally fine. Though no matter what road we choose in life, we can always find a way to bring peace to ourselves, encouraging ourselves to begin every day with a new kind of vigor instead of fear. We’ve been building with each experience, and we will continue to build.