How to ensure students are stretched rather than stressed

Danuta Tomasz, Director of Education, UK, at Cognita warns against taking ‘no pain, no gain’ too far when it comes to students’ learning.

We as educators cannot eliminate stress entirely. A certain amount of pressure is integral to learning. Children are frequently told that ‘there is no gain without pain’, and while the language of suffering isn’t exactly helpful, teachers would be failing in their duty if they did not prepare students for what can be a challenging journey.

Yet if inculcating a work ethic in students is essential, so is a recognition that one of the biggest impediments to academic performance is too much stress. Study after academic study only confirms what common sense supposes – happy students make for better students. We will not help our students academically if we make unreasonable demands on their time, weigh them down with too much revision and homework, or narrow the curriculum to concentrate on passing exams.

The vast majority of teachers instinctively understand this. But inflated expectations, whether held by parents or increasingly by students themselves, can be cruel taskmasters. Today’s youngsters have to cope with an online environment that can distract and diminish in equal measure, as well as academic pathways that have rarely been more competitive. It’s not surprising if many buckle under the strain. What teachers cannot do is let them sacrifice their wellbeing in pursuit of a goal that will only become more elusive the more anxious they become.

You can read the full article published in Conference & Common Room Magazine, here.

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