School finals brings anxiety to pupils, teachers Alike
In Britain, student stress over finals is now being addressed in unconventional ways, from bubble wraps to petting zoos.
University of Leicester students are planning to set up bubble wrap stations where students can pop bubble wraps to soothe anxiety. Bath Spa University and University of Canberra meanwhile are using petting zoos to help student relieve the stress of exams.
Cambridge University historian and classics professor Mary Beard can testify to the reality of exams-based stress. In an article for the BBC, she said that students ‘suddenly morph into nervous wrecks’ whenever finals season sets in.
Media and sociology student Nia Phillips said that having activities like bubble wrap stations during finals season is helpful for students to reduce stress ‘without having to announce to anyone how they’re feeling… [they] may feel too ashamed to speak out about exam stress.’
President elect of the students’ union Michael Rubin agrees, saying ‘mental well-being is a top priority’ during finals season.
But teachers are also not immune to the stress of finals. After the pupils have submitted their papers, Beard says one of the most difficult parts of marking papers is deciphering the students’ answers.
Exam papers are usually labelled with ‘Candidates who do not write legibly may find themselves at a grave disadvantage.’ However, for Beard, it is difficult to enforce this rule considering that the pupils’ careers hang in the balance: ‘you’d have to be very hard-hearted actually to inflict that “grave disadvantage.”’
In this case, universities may have to recommend more options to relieve exam stress for both pupils and teachers. Some other alternatives include bouncy castles and even back massages.
With the stress it causes, why not just chuck exams out the window? Beard says it’s all about tradition: ‘There is all the same something reassuringly traditional about the whole process.
‘Never mind all the anxiety, overwork and stress that exams breed.’