I LOVE to hear my parents tell stories about how they had a lot of playtime when they were still in high school. They said that students would eagerly rush out of the classrooms when the afternoon dismissal bell rang. They would then group themselves and engage in outdoor activities like "patintero" and "scottie" before heading home.
With a frustrated sigh, I ponder on my generation’s monotonous routine: at dismissal time, students meet with their classmates to work on projects; most of the time, we are forced to go home late because of this. And when we get home, we hit the books some more for a couple of long tests.
These contrasting scenarios has kept me wondering. How come students before had the luxury of playing after school but at the same time are still able to comply with the requirements given to them, whereas my generation is so harassed with schoolwork? Too much work, too little time; the senior high program is not at all a bed of roses.
We are well aware that the secondary level or senior high school is a critical phase of education. This stage allows the students to determine the field that they want to go into. For most, it also serves as a crossroads for certain career and life choices. On the one hand, this stage will equip a student with the needed academic background should he opt to continue his studies beyond senior high.
In a social standpoint, it is deemed that the senior high program is critical in preparing the students to contribute well to society given their chosen fields. On the other hand, however, this stage is also where there is an alarming rate of students bearing the brunt of "masked depression" that is caused by exam stress and academic stress.
The Philippine education system is already halfway through its second year of its senior high program. According to the Department of Education (DepEd), the K to 12 program is the boldest move that it has undertaken. It is no secret that there is some resistance to the program but the government has been assuring the public that the additional two years to the curriculum should be thought of as two years less due to employability. Their claims that a senior high graduate can already be employed remains to be seen in a few years.
There is also much to be appreciated about this program since it gives high school students a taste of what is to come in college and when they finally seek employment. There is, however, an overwhelming demand from the subjects involved. This causes too much stress on the student and here is where the problem arises.
According to studies, stress is a major factor to how a child performs academically. A research done in 2000 on learning theories states that stress can enhance learning ability, but too much of it can cause physical and mental health problems and the academic achievement of a child is put to risk.
A person can easily adapt; children are known to adapt better than adults. However, the adaptive abilities are greatly affected when the demands become too overwhelming. This then affects the students’ academic performance.
Senior high students are faced with a tremendous amount of stress that comes from too much homework, long tests, and performance tasks. The workload is not actually the problem; rather it is the limited amount of time for these requirements. Another study conducted in 2000 on the effects of stress on health habits, health status, and self-esteem states that working hours and workloads are dominant sources of stress.
The academic stress that students are experiencing is probably part of the birth pains of the senior high program. It should be noted, however, that if a student is having difficulty in coping with academic stress, then there might be serious repercussions such as psycho-social and emotional health consequences.
Given the problems that the system and, most especially, the students are facing, the question of whether learners will get the best out of the senior high program should be pondered on. (Joeie Cuerpo)
Note: Joeie Cuerpo is a grade 11 student of Corpus Christi Senior High School taking up Humanities and Social Sciences (HUMSS). He is the Associate Editor-in-Chief of Tambuli, the official student publication of Corpus Christi School. Tech savvy, he led the first-ever victory of Corpus Christi School to the 2016 Division Schools Press Conference's Radio Broadcasting Competition where the team won Best in Technical Application, Best Infomercial, Best Radio Script, Best News Anchor, and Best News Presenter.