Too much to take

The knock-out effects of the academic pressure cooker

Publication YearIssue Date 

We all have gone through the same steps to get where we are. We've exhausted every resource to guarantee ourselves some sort of academic success including paying ridiculous amounts of money to some dude named Renert to teach us how to properly recall a course we've already completed. We've pulled all-weekers and processed so much information in such a short time that our brains could spontaneously combust and it wouldn't slow us down. But do we actually have it so bad? The academic pressure in Canada seems like a sarcastic joke compared to the pressures pupils in other countries face. Last week an article on the BBC website reported that a primary school in southern Tanzania was closed for three days because 18 of its pupils fainted in one day. Angry parents, confused about the lack of medical evidence to why their children faint, accused the teachers of bewitching the children. Although some medical officers are actually quoted saying that the phenomenon may be caused by a neurosis related to the local links with witchcraft, it seems fishy that the teachers, who earn their entire living off of their students, would bewitch them to faint. If the pressures of academic achievement in Tanzania are affecting primary school girls under the age of 16 this badly, Canadian students should be able to properly deal with our "monstrous" pressures.

Reports on the effects of academic pressures have not only surfaced in southern Tanzania. At the Indian Institute of Technology in Kanpur, the suicide of Ritika Toya Chatterjee, who was in her final-year, is the fifth suicide accredited to failure of a final exam and the seventh in three years for the institute. Her death was also the second within just 45 days. Contrary to the case in southern Tanzania, some of the professors at this institute even warned their students that they would fail and one civil engineering professor actually sent out an email to the students that contained the names of students who were likely to fail their exams. With these threats from the teachers, even the most competent students may doubt their abilities to the point of suicidal stress.

China is more well known for academic pressure. According to a report done by china.org.cn, 12-year-old Tian Tian recently committed suicide, leaving this note behind:

"Dear parents, I can hardly express my gratitude to you for bringing me up in the past 12 years. But I feel under such pressure. There is too much homework for me. I had no choice but to die. Last words from your daughter."

At 12-years-old, academic pressure had already taken a sickly hold on this adolescent mind. Tian isn't alone. Recently a boy at a junior middle school jumped off a building, leaving behind an unfinished test, while another boy, 16, killed his mother and said his father would be his next target. Instead of aiming to finish their homework before going to hockey practice and later a movie with the family, these children end up dead on the ground while their unfinished studies float down beside them.

When I tried searching "academic pressures in Canada and North America," I wasn't surprised that one of the first results is a Yahoo answer on the subject, "Would America be better off if kids were put under the academic pressure common in Asian countries?" We're just fine the way we are, as long as we learn to appreciate it. Yes, we have our pressures, but they do not even begin to compare with what other kids face. As it's acceptable to scrape by high school with a D-average, while being offered so many possibilities of upgrading and tutorials, our complaints are more of a way to flaunt how easy we have it.




I think this article really sheds some light on the differences in academic pressures placed on students in countries other than Canada. It is refereshing to read that this Canadian student understands how fortunate the students that live and study here in Canada are.