A* Standards and exams: Could this explain increased Anxiety and Depression in the young?

The standard of exams seems to have gone sky high! I remember when an A was a great grade and was a real achievement. But now young people have to get an A* and lots of them. Getting a mere A is just not good enough!

Young people and children are under ridiculous amounts of pressure these days. The number of cases where young people are suffering from acute anxiety has risen dramatically in my practice. More and more frequently, young girls and boys facing GCSES and A levels are tying themselves up in knots and even physically sick before writing their exams. Their self-esteem as it at an all time low and the stress can trigger an onset of depression. This happens when their cortisol levels have been relentlessly triggered to a point where they just can’t muster a healthy amount of energy to work.

An alternative to SATS has been offered. But this means children as young as 7 years old undergoing tests, albeit in order to free teachers up to teach more and to avoid the 11+ exams. But would this earlier alternative not simply result in putting younger children under excessive scrutiny? The 11+ exams are already putting plenty of pressure on children with mountains of revision and extra tutoring for many. Parents are also getting more and more stressed worrying whether their child will get into a ‘good enough’ school.

The pressures of schooling is now seeping down to ages where children are really struggling to cope. They don’t have the emotional tools and strategies or are given them at a stage that is likely too late. Academia is the bench mark for success and the emotional support needed only starts when matters have reached a crisis point.

A balanced amount of self-growth and discovery is important for every child but no child can work successfully if not emotionally stable.  How can understanding a Maths time tables be more important than self-esteem? Without a good grounding of self-esteem no amount of learning practice will ‘stick’ in your child’s brain.

As babies, it is our emotional brain – the right hemisphere brain – that develops first. The right brain is the foundation that is built upon first. The left brain, that is in charge of sequential and verbal processing, is the second part of the brain puzzle which begins to engage after the first year of development.

So it’s our emotional brain that needs support and building up before we can process learning. In order for us to get the best possible chance of processing and give the best basis for our sequential brain to work, we need a solid emotional brain.

The very nature of schools and teaching is to invest in the processing brain and it is only when at crisis point that the vital emotional brain gets a look in. Unfortunately, it’s like our learning life skills are programmed back to front and nature is indicating how we are to invest in ourselves. A happy mind is primed to create a learning and curious mind. It could be said that the emotional self is the key hardware to our learning software.