School Adjustments to Stop Mental Health Deterioration

Illustration by LA Johnson

I mean, I think that Holden Caulfield seems pretty happy and stress-free without a school life — I’m referring to our fellow main character in J.D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye, Holden Caulfield. Don’t you hear him? He recalled, “I felt so damn happy all of a sudden… I was damn near bawling. I felt so damn happy, if you want to know the truth” (Salinger 213). Holden is proof that because school is harmful to many students, their mental health could thrive without it. That is to say, this is not a petition to abolish school. Though, school still needs to have adjustments made, that is all. But recognize that school is detrimental and it is necessary to know what the problem is before it can be improved.

Likewise, one of the aspects of mental drainage in students is due to the massive loads of homework they receive in a day. The average student has six classes — six classes with homework they have to account for each night. And teachers wonder why students are sleeping in their class? According to Ruthann Richter of Stanford Medicine, “Sleep deprivation increases the likelihood teens will suffer myriad negative consequences, including an inability to concentrate, poor grades, drowsy-driving incidents, anxiety, depression, thoughts of suicide and even suicide attempts” (Richter 2015, Stanford Medicine). On top of that, sleeping in class leads the teacher to assign detention. This situation benefits no one. Homework should be assigned accordingly with other subjects and teachers should plan together in order to prevent overwhelming students and adding on to their stress.

Not only is the school’s homework load depriving students of happiness, but also its mere focus on knowledge. Yes, academics are a necessity in school. But, should academics be the only purpose of a school’s education? “Is Bill Gates, who dropped out of Harvard as a junior to found Microsoft, more or less educated than his classmates who stayed in school” (The Language of Composition Textbook)? No. If we’re trying to decrease the stress of students, and if school only focuses on academics and the homework that tags along with it, there will be no improvement in the majority ‘s mental health. I’ve already proven that it is one-hundred percent possible that students can thrive without school. Just take a look at the successful social media influencers who left school that exist today. They are successful, happy, wealthy and rich. The point I’m trying to make here — is that — academic knowledge should not be the only, sole, purpose of school. That is to say, decreasing time in school and dropping out of learning should also NOT be a resolution to students’ work overload and sleep deprivation. According to The Language of Composition Textbook, “Such philosophical questions are often lost in the practical realities of schooling” (Renée S., Lawrence S., & Robin A.). For example, ethics and culture could still be taught without overwhelming students with assignments every night. So why not replace over-taught principles and repetitive studies with non-academic yet still knowledgeable and useful thought?

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