Saturday, May 28, 2011

Does Anyone Care About the Kids?

The Institute of Education Sciences has approved a $1.6 million study of the effects of stress on education. This is great! Right?! We will see how stressful the school environment is on the kids, and maybe some drastic changes will finally be made!

Oh wait... no, nevermind. The study is not about the kids.

It's about the teachers.

This article explains that the study is designed to find out the effects of stress on teachers in some Texas middle schools. It asks:
Can facing a roomful of rambunctious, hormone-ravaged 7th and 8th graders day after day traumatize a teacher?
Before I go on, let me say that there is no way I could teach middle school. I know it's a hard job, and I'm sure it is extremely stressful. But this question feels like it might be blaming the kids (or their hormones) for stressing out teachers.

And I'm trying to imagine why a study about an apparently stressful environment would focus on the one person in the situation who is paid to be there. The one who could technically walk out the door at any moment. Rather than focusing on the other 25 people who are forced to be there, even if some of them strongly object.

I don't understand why any study would focus on the stress of the one person in the room who has power over all the others. The one who calls the shots. The one who could make decisions to significantly affect the levels of stress, by being more flexible, more compassionate, less demanding.

What about the rest of the people in the room (the kids) who have little to no control over the situation? The ones who have no choice but to sit and listen? To take whatever is dished out? To get up day after day and face the judgments of teachers and possible ridicule of other students, all for the sake of learning things they might never have wanted to learn?

It's true, the study does plan on "linking teacher stressors to teacher effectiveness and student academic and behavioral outcomes." So I suppose that means it will see if the stress level of the teachers affects the measured learning of the students.

And my only hope is that after this study concludes something about the stress of the middle school environment on the teachers, more people will notice that the students are also extremely stressed. I hope that more people will see that this stressful environment might be a cause of lots of the problems our nation's children are facing. And maybe someone important will do something about it.


  1. Maybe reducing the stress on the kids will reduce the stress on the teachers (though I think being RESPONSIBLE for that many other people's children is inherently stressful)

  2. oh, and to add: I HAVE one of those "hormone-ravaged 7th graders" he's not always cooperative and compliant, but he means well and he's pretty receptive to hearing other people's feelings, if they can get past their pride and just say "hey, I'm not imperturbable, that bugged me, please don't"

  3. @mightydoll, Exactly. I agree that if the kids were less stressed, the teacher could be less stressed. Let's focus on the kids!