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We have all been there. The crowded hallways, the heavy book bags, teachers, stress, and peer pressure. High school, or schools in general, is a time where we learn the basic skills that will be used throughout our life. Schools are social institutions that teach young minds about the social norms within a society. They do offer ways to get out of social classes or improve oneself through hard work and dedication, however most of the time they also hold us back.
As a student who has been to public schools, private schools, and who is currently being online schooled not only in the United States, but in multiple countries in the Middle East, I have seen how they affect the way I am today: both negatively and positively. As a kid, I was and still am different from kids of my age. I’d rather be playing an instrument or researching about international politics and policies than dancing. I’d rather be spending an hour early in the morning with a biology teacher learning the material than sleeping in. This has affected the way I have been treated by other peers, and still has an effect on me today.
Because I am different, and I do not fit in with most social norms whether in the United States or the Middle East, I am looked at and treated differently. Because schools teach many social norms and negative stereotypes, kids feel the need to pressure their peers or bully others to fit into the norms. Schools are helpful to our education and learning, but they can also be harmful. When a teacher looks upon a student differently, students will look upon that student differently.
Teachers, however, are dealing with a broken system which makes kids become standardized through testing such as the SAT or State Standardized Testing. The school and teachers are judged by the scores that the student produces. Even if that student is intelligent, he or she may not be shown that way through a test that was made to standardize, and not fit to who they are.
This not only leads to peer pressure, but also stress and anxiety. As students today, we not only have to worry about peer pressure, but also school work, standardized testing, colleges, after school activities, etc. As reported by the American Psychological Associations 2010 Stress in America Survey, nearly one third of all children reported experiencing physical symptoms that are commonly associated with stress, and 38 percent claimed they had trouble falling asleep or staying up at night. Also it is important to note that the average high school kid today has the same level of anxiety as the average psychiatric patient in the early 1950s.
This should not be the case. Schools should open their doors to creativity, to differences, and should not put this amount of pressure on students. Sure, some social norms have to be kept to keep a society’s balanced order, and form. However, it shouldn’t have to affect the student so greatly. We also have to put less pressure upon the students of today, and not expect them to know what job they want or major they want by their freshman year of high school. Students in social institutions such as schools should have time to discover who they are and what they are passionate about.
It was hard at first for me to find my niche and who I am today as a person, but through challenging classes in online school, and the opportunities to experience everyday different cultures personalities, and multiple extracurricular activities, I have had the time to discover this. Schools will not change in an instant, however it is up to us to start changing the social norms, anxiety, stress, and most importantly peer pressure.

(Photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/adrian/5030705/)

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