AP Classes = Advanced Problems
School and stress. Two things that have had walked hand in hand since the beginning. Everyday, kids are told to “Do their best!”. But what is best? Being in all AP classes? Pushing themselves to do so much homework every night that they get 5 hours of sleep, instead of the healthy 9 ? hours? And does the basic human need to fit in push people past their limits, just just so they can be thought of as thought of as “Smart”? I believe that all of these questions can be traced to one source; Ability Grouping in schools. Being in AP classes can add yet another homework load onto student’s shoulders.
Kids push themselves to keep up with just the regular amount of work! Why should they be encouraged to throw themselves into another 2 hours worth? This can also have a negative affect on parents as well. Parents can be kept up most of the night, just to help their child though their subjects. Parents can also be a source of pressure. They can force their kids to push themselves, just so they can have bragging rights about them. They can also argue, bribe, and convince the school to allow their child the “Privilege” of being in AP english.
But almost none of these types of parents think about the negative aspects of pushing your child to far, just so they can go to Harvard and be on the crew team just like Daddy. In a poll, 9/10 students have said that they have already thought about college. 9/9 of those students say that they believe that being in advanced classes will help them to get into the college of their choice. But the truth is, do you really think that being in AP math will help you become a writer? Why not just limit yourself to the classes that you really need to succeed in. I’m not saying that we should all just settle for average, I’m saying that we should just maybe set lower goals, that are a bit more attainable, so we can focus on the stuff that we care about.
There are some upsides to ability grouping though. It allows students to be in an environment where they are surrounded by kids who learn at the same pace as them. It also allows teachers to challenge all of their students, instead of challenging some while others just sit back and breeze through. But, another major problem that attributes to stress and pressure, is bullying and cliques. Some students judge others, just because of the fact that they learn at a different pace.
This makes the student feel outcasted, like they don’t have a place in their school. Deb Elkin once said, “We all need to feel like we have a place where we belong, where we are important, where people care about us. We are not meant to be alone and we are not meant to be totally self-sufficient.”. Kids can be mean, and learning levels can create another level of separation, like we needed help with that already. Until students, teachers, and parents alike accept that only 14% of all high school students have all AP classes, this problem won’t be resolved.
So I believe that if we just set lower goals (it’s hard to do, I know), and put less emphasis on whether or not you got into AP science, then we can all live healthier happier lives.