Friday, June 29, 2007

Educational Anxiety

Have you ever worked with a client in regards to school/educational related anxieties? Recently I had a young lady in for a consultation over her extreme anxiety with test taking. To be specific, the anxiety is over an upcoming verbal French exam and there seem to be several fears rapped around this one area including fear of public speaking, a fear of exposing her 'lisp,' a fear of not remembering the pronunciation of words, and a dislike of the teacher. This is her second attempt with French, as she failed it once.

Interestingly enough, this client is actually fluent in French, Cajun French. Her family primarily still communicates using that dialect. Her teacher feels that she needs to know "real" French (though from what I understand this woman has never been to a French speaking area of any sort). So, apparently whenever my client pronounces something with her Cajun ways or even due to a small lisp, her teacher marks her down.

The client is the type who does fairly well in her studies, mostly high marks, except for this.

But here's what is really bothering me this morning. I started thinking about the idea of grading and how perhaps it really interferes with the learning process, true learning. I suspect grading is supposed to be about letting the student know where one is in the comprehension of a certain subject. But it seems as though it has become something of a monster now. It becomes a self-esteem issue because if one doe not do well, then one may be looked down upon if one does not make the grade. Who cares about the subject as long as it appears that you were on the high end of the grading scale?

I am proud to say that I could not comprehend Calculus when I was 16. Nor do I understand it 20 years later. With a lot of tutelage at the time, I passed it, but with no more comprehension then I had when I began. I was successful because I passed, when in reality the system failed me because it made no sense. At the time all I cared about was getting a passing grade. And now I wonder what I really missed?

So, here is this young woman who is interested in the subject as it is a part of her life, but all she has gained from this class is acute anxiety over passing. Her confidence has been shaken. And for what? A silly mark on a piece of paper that is inaccurate.

There, I've said my peace.

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