Arrested Development

As the end of the marking period quickly approaches, many students are feeling the overwhelming pressure to earn perfect grades and ensure the appearance of “A”s on their report cards.
In an environment as competitive as Hotchkiss, its natural for students to feel a strong motivation to succeed. After all, Hotchkiss markets itself as a college preparatory school, and there’s an implicit tendency for students to yearn for success in order to open up better paths for themselves later in their academic career. Although, this tendency can be overwhelming. Often, parents set impossibly high and unrealistic expectations for their children that do not give enough leeway for a children to experiment with their own educational experience. This unyielding desire to see one’s child excel, although coming from the best of intentions, places an unfair burden on students. At times, this unintentionally fuels the overly-competitive culture at Hotchkiss.
Not only does this encourage self-criticism and negatively impact a child’s mental health, but this constant demand for perfection can make students develop an unhealthy fear of failure. Students push themselves to extreme lengths––at times, committing acts of academic dishonesty––in order to meet certain expectations rather than to risk failure, and as a result lack the ability to recover from certain challenges or problems.
It is essential that students are given the space to fail. While it may be difficult for many parents to accept (as no one wants to see their child stumble), those setbacks and failures are the very experiences that will teach students how to be resourceful, persistent, and resilient. Without them, students will not be able to develop characteristics such as perseverance, determination, and confidence. Children will be unprepared for adulthood because they lack the resources they will need to cope with inevitable setbacks in life. A “B” on their report does not make or break a student’s academic career, but not having the ability to deal with failure and pick oneself up from the ground after a stumble sets a child up for issues later in life.
When it is time to leave high school behind and enter the real world, and confront all its unavoidable responsibilities, freedoms, and risks, children who have failed will have the necessary attitude and fortitude to manage it successfully once they leave the close scrutiny and care of their parents. These children have the invaluable skill of owning up to their mistakes, and knows to learn from their countless setbacks to improve themselves. We must realize that failure is not something to fear or avoid, but something that should be embraced as an essential part of growing up and self-discovery.