I’m pretty willing to accept that exams are stressful. Here are a few other things that I reckon people find stressful;
- driving tests
- job interviews
- giving a speech at a wedding
- participating in a cup final
- dental appointments (potentially)
- going to court
- playing a musical instrument for an audience
- moving house
- being burgled
- travelling, particularly in a foreign country
- meeting your boyfriend/girlfriend’s parents for the first time
The point is that there are lots of things that are stressful. Some are worthwhile and cannot be avoided. Others should be avoided if possible. Yet nobody is going to navigate the adult world without encountering stress.
I do not wish to suggest that stress is a trivial issue. It can be utterly debilitating and bad for your health. However, we primarily need strategies for managing and overcoming stress because we cannot eliminate it altogether.
I wonder why we sometimes think that schools should eliminate exam stress from students’ lives. This would not seem like good preparation for the adult world.
However, perhaps this is not such a surprise. In the adult world, wrongdoers are punished if they are caught. If I exceed the speed limit then I can expect a fine. However, any attempt to impose similar consequences in schools is likely to lead to criticism for being ‘punitive’.
And this often comes from the same quarters that tend to insist that learning should take place in real world contexts.