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Message to Readers

I haven't had much experience in speech writing and I'm not sure if this is ok.... Any feedback is GREATLY appreciated!
(Also, I will have to submit this tomorrow because I'm going on a school camp, so I won't see any feedback after then)

I hate school

October 17, 2020

How many times have you heard a teenager say, ‘I hate school’?  If you’re a parent of a teen you would’ve at least endured the common complaints and maybe been victim to the question, ‘can I stay home today?’. Or, if you’re lucky, you might have even been graced with a full performance from your high-schooler, involving dramatically staged stomach-aches, feeble fake coughs and arguments against the accuracy of a thermometer that yields no unusual results.

As a teenager myself, I can certainly announce that I’ve said those words – ‘I hate school’ – on many occasions, and that it’s a phrase that echoes regularly amongst the students around me. This has become a common expression in our society, and we’ve learnt to brush it off with ease, dismissing it as the product of a lazy generation or a spur-of-the-moment exaggeration. But have you ever stopped to consider the weight of those words, and that maybe they hold greater meaning?

While many can easily disregard this declaration, when I hear it – when I say it - I feel sad. Because shouldn’t learning be fun? Yes, we don’t all like every topic, and yes, occasionally boring tasks must be undertaken for us to fully understand something. But at its core, shouldn’t learning – the acquisition of knowledge about the world around us, who we are, how we came to be here and the amazing phenomena that every day holds – be exciting?

After all, learning is one of the most natural human processes. In fact, we are constantly learning new things. At the age of three, children will learn a new word every ninety minutes, and by the age of five they will have memorised thousands of words as well as the complex use of their language. It is even believed that there is an inherent thrill in learning new things and it is naturally something we enjoy. 

Yet in a survey conducted by researchers from the Yale Centre for Emotional Intelligence and the Yale Child Study Centre of 21,678 U.S. high schoolers approximately 75% experienced negative feelings in relation to school, with the most common emotions reported being tired, stressed, and bored. An innate love of learning, but a dislike towards school? This just doesn’t add up. Something must be going wrong.

In my experience as a grade nine student, many of the problems with our school system come down to one key issue: pressure. I would even go as far as to say that, to some degree, the mainstream school system relies upon pressure.

One form of this pressure is caused by the large amount of content that is covered in a short amount of time, and to a rigid structure. This not only restricts the depth in which topics can be investigated and is contrary to the vital skill of independent learning, but it doesn’t allow for the fact that people learn at different paces, meaning that it is easy for students to fall behind. This is even worse when accompanied by the all-too-common threat that ‘unfinished work must be completed for homework’. 

And this brings us to another issue: homework. Ah, homework. It is the bane of the average teenager’s existence – and rightfully so. After six hours of school, homework is the last thing that anyone would feel like doing, yet In 2007, in a study from the National Center for Education Statistics in America it was found that every week, high school students spent an average of around seven hours doing homework. The continuation of this amount of work becomes exhausting and can mean that school - instead of improving teenagers lives – begins to consume them.

The other primary source of this pressure is assessment and grades. And please don’t tell me that it is up to the students to stop worrying about grades, because the focus on grades is not their fault, but that of the system that they are thrust into. Schools have pressure to produce high-quality assessment results in order to create a good image, and this is often translated onto students. On top of the pressure they may receive from parents, peers, or themselves, this can cause tremendous stress for students. This stress often leads to difficult concentrating or processing thoughts, which is essential to learning. So, in this sense, pressure is completely counterproductive. 

From what I’ve seen, this continual pressure can do two things to teenagers. It can either force them to work constantly - which appears perfect at first glance but can have damaging impacts on both physical and mental health - or it can cause them to give up on the work altogether.

So why is there so much pressure in schools in the first place? Mostly, to motivate students. But aren’t there better motivations? What about curiosity – one of the most natural driving forces of learning – that is so often overshadowed by a need for constant success? 

Yet this neglection of curiosity has greater ramifications. It makes it hard for teenagers to simply recognise the possibilities and potential that they hold, beyond the mundane life they were thrust into. Teenagers are given so few avenues to make change – especially given that school consumes so much of their life – and are told that they have little impact by the media; their opinion undervalued and ignored. They are taught to live for the future and wait for their life to happen, despite the fact that they have a voice and a heart right now.

 So next time you hear a teenager say ‘I hate school’, don’t scold them over their "laziness" and "lack of dedication". Instead, ask them why and listen to what they have to say, because their opinion is important. I believe that humans all have the capacity to love learning, and a few more would if our school systems changed. Because I do love learning, but I hate school. And I know it doesn’t have to be this way.

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  • Anne Blackwood

    Wow, this is very enlightening! I agree with everything you've said, and even if I didn't, I'd have to admit that you made your points very well. I especially love your last paragraph.

    13 days ago
  • Doodleninja

    re: awwww thanks so much for the kind words on my speech!! So glad you enjoyed it! XD

    13 days ago
  • Chloe :) <3

    This speech is amazing and such a relevant topic to us!!

    13 days ago
  • Doodleninja

    I love that you chose to speak about this topic!! Because I absolutely agree, it's the pressure that really degrades the experience of learning.
    Wonderful speech! Love the amount of statistics you have and you defend your argument very well. :D

    13 days ago