Balancing the Busy Life: Are Educators to Blame?

frustrated-studentAs a teen, I understand many of the scheduling struggles teenagers face. Many colleges like to see a well-rounded teen, so that’s what many strive to be.

But sports, music, schoolwork, volunteering, science fair, performances, and extracurriculars can become a bit much after a while. Especially when they all take place in the same month. I call March my “madness month,” because this is one of the busiest months of the year for me. Unfortunately, activities usually run late, not getting me home until seven, eight, or even nine o’ clock at night. After that, I still have homework remaining. And so it goes that my homework not for the next day gets pushed off until it is for the next day. This leaves me extremely tired and sleeping at very late hours.

Part of the reason behind jammed schedules and unreasonably late hours are the educators involved.

A QUICK STORY: I recently had a situation where I had a clarinet audition, badminton practice, youth orchestra rehearsal, and, of course, lots and lots of homework all on the same day. My audition ran over, and I was thus late to badminton practice. Of course my band director, who was running the auditions, apologized profusely, but he didn’t offer to let me come back the next day instead, as I was supposed to be done just in time for my sports to start. After being late for sports, and being given a glare, a sigh, and disapproval by my badminton coach, I had to leave for my youth orchestra rehearsal. My youth orchestra rehearsal starts just ten minutes after badminton practice, and I usually leave at six o’ clock sharp so I can get there on time. As things go, badminton practice ran over, and I started off at 6:03 PM, leaving me just seven minutes to get to my youth orchestra. Of course I was late! The director of woodwinds, who I had told the previous week that I might be late, glared at me. And that wasn’t all.

On Saturday, I have both my concert for my youth orchestra and a girls’ science seminar which I go to only once a year. The times for the dress rehearsal of the concert and the last workshop of the science seminar conflicted, so I asked the director of woodwinds for permission to skip the dress rehearsal on Saturday and go to my science seminar instead–provided, of course, that I would be there on time and ready to go for the actual concert. She said “fine,” and told me she was disappointed in me because the concert had been on the calendar since August–and when did I find out about the science seminar? I told her just after our last rehearsal, which was when I had mailed in my form. (In fact, dress rehearsal didn’t matter, as I found out later it wasn’t even “dress,” and we were just playing through our pieces, which we did in our rehearsal that day anyway.) To add to my stress, I found out recently that a girl is leaving the Varsity badminton team in our school, and so those on Junior Varsity, the team which I am on, have to try out AGAIN, this time in singles, to try to get on to the Varsity team. I was also supposed to have another clarinet playing test tomorrow, which I hadn’t had time to practice for in all the mess. Luckily, it was cancelled at the last minute, but for just a moment, so much stress was placed on me I was ready to burst.

This gave me a lot of extra stress; I am very passionate about science, sports, and music, and I try my best to incorporate all of them into my life. But it’s extremely discouraging when one of my teachers or educators expresses that they are disappointed that I missed part of their thing, even if I did all the required work, made up the practice hours by myself, and made sure I was prepared in general. This occurs very often, and even when I never have missed a practice or session before.

Educators discouraging students may be part of the reason as to why many students are not all-rounded these days, or often quit activities they are passionate about because they just don’t fit into the students’ schedule. I believe that if students have the chance to do everything, even if it means compromising a little bit of the time for each of the activities they participate in, they should be given that chance. They only have four years in high school, and in order to experiment with their interests, they should be given the support of their educators. I can’t skip sports this year, because trying it our next year would mean sacrificing a year of practice which is vital to my development as an athlete.  Nor can I skip my music, because it would make me out of practice and inhibit my later success; and skipping a year of my science seminar would close off many wonderful opportunities that I otherwise could not have found.

Educators should encourage every student’s other activities, provided that the other activities are healthy and the student is not missing something important in the activity they are currently in, such as a concert, game, or other performance. I completely understand educators becoming frustrated with students for missing something because of a silly reason, such as the student wanting to hang out with friends, but if the student has a valid excuse and will stay on top of their required work, they should be allowed to skip part of (or, if necessary, all of) one practice.

Exploring the world around them is an important part of a teenagers’ lives, and they should be given as many opportunities to do this as they can. Educators should be aware of students’ stress and try to help alleviate that as much as possible, while still making their activities reputable and worthwhile. But that, of course, is from the teenage perspective.

– S

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