An Outdated System

01 Jun An Outdated System

Stuff the school system and its “idea” of teaching the next generation. Great, we learn math, but calculators exist for a reason. English is something we actually all need to learn, but the pressure to write two essays in two hours is unreasonable. Where’s the real stuff? The stuff I learned at school hasn’t gotten me through this year at all. Where’s learning about how to do a tax return? How to save my money, instead of spending it on Maccas. We should be learning how to deal with stress, anxiety, and for some people, depression. Where’s learning about how to deal when you lose someone close to you or go through something traumatic? At least I know how to do algebra.

Even the idea of school stresses teenagers out. We’re at school for around 6 and a half hours a day, learning five to six different subjects and expected to stay on task. We then are sent home with an hour of homework a night for each class. That’s basically a 12-hour day. No wonder we stress out and have panic attacks. One in five young New Zealanders will be affected by depression or an anxiety disorder by the age of 19.

Didn’t anyone stop to think maybe something needs to change? Why aren’t mental health days more known about? I had no clue about a mental health day until this year. This was only because I was low, but we shouldn’t wait for someone to get to that point in their life. So many questions for a never-ending problem. 

We aren’t taught about the “real world”. As teenagers, we don’t know half the things that take place out there. Some get exposed to the real world before they’ve even stepped out of school. How are we supposed to know what to do? What about learning how to treat each other nicely? And time management? These are simple skills. Maybe if we started teaching teens about these life skills at school, it wouldn’t have to be one out of five young New Zealanders being affected by depression. We just need to start listening.

To add to the stress of life, teenagers start to get jobs and have more responsibilities. Everything can start to feel overwhelming. This added pressure of teens growing reflects onto their school life. If we take a step back and look at what school is, we could describe it in one word. Credits. A scary word. All I hear is credits. These credits are your life, they can make or break your future. Everyone wants those E credits. Teachers say, “Just think of the credits”. Yes, Sir, let me think about something that causes me stress. We put ourselves through so much to try to look good on paper. It’s interesting because I thought that we weren’t supposed to judge a book by its cover. However, getting into university is all about how good you look on paper. 

Think back to a time when you were sitting in your class eagerly waiting for your test results, only to find out that you have got a Not Achieved. That gutted feeling sets in. Not doing so well in your favourite class is upsetting. We then start to doubt everything we do in the class. The paper doesn’t show the struggles to get there, does it? It never will. We are trying so hard for a mark on a sheet of paper. Why has it led to this? 

A job requires more than what the paper says. The academics are important, but not the whole thing. It’s your ability to adapt, connect, and create. These are skills that externals cannot teach you. An essay can allow you to connect with a text, but not with real people. School is a good asset to have as it teaches you to learn, but it should be portrayed as a journey —a small chapter in your life. This is only the beginning. The skills we learn here are important, but life is about how we use them. Don’t get disheartened by a grade on a paper; think about what you learnt and how you can grow. 

My final question for you is how are you going to make sure you continue this learning journey far beyond the classroom? There is a whole big world out there just waiting for us. 

Monique Casciaro

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