How Schools Are Failing Teenagers’ Developing Minds

And what we can do to fix the system.

I have spent countless nights staying up until near midnight, trying to type that last sentence of my essay due early in the morning. It always seems like I had no time to even finish that last sentence, or even begin on the project in general. All of those wasted hours of sleep, but at what cost? Could this have been avoided? Well, I’m here to say that it can.

I have seen hundreds of teenagers in Massachusetts high schools just like me who have procrastinated on important school projects or work, which is very bad for their mental health and even developing mind. But this is not always a teenager’s fault. Students in Springfield Honors Academy, and in the US, have poor time management skills due to their teenager growth. 

Most like to blame this on a teenager’s “laziness” or bad attitude towards high school, but that is not the case at all. Teachers and the school system need to take into account that teenage brains are still growing and need time to adjust to how they use their time properly. 

So instead of blaming all of the problems on this generation, the school system, as well as teachers, should help teach proper time management skills to their students so that they can implement these super beneficial skills in real life. Students should also practice better time management skills so that they do not stress themselves out as much

In a recent Circle Meeting at Springfield Honors Academy, students and teachers were able to have an honest and meaningful discussion about the number of homework students receive, and whether or not it was too much of a workload for them to receive. Nearly 40 students, represented about 20 percent of the student population in Springfield Honors Academy. In this meeting, questions ranged from highlights of high school experience to the disconnection of work completion. And in nearly all of the student responses, they have brought up the idea of procrastination and how hard it is to manage their time. In fact, multiple have even stated that it is also difficult to find the right teacher or class to focus on the most, or which is the highest priority in-class projects.

Counselor and consultant specializer Ana Homayoun has been tackling the issue of time management in junior and high schools for over two decades, and her experience in her field of work. Knowing that teenage brains are still in a major development, she has devised a five-step plan to help adolescents manage their time:

  1. Create opportunities for Reflection
  2. Provide concrete and consistent tools for organization and time-management
  3. Block and manage distractions
  4. Realize the importance of nutrition, sleep, and stress management
  5. Strive and create personal and academic goals

“Realize the importance of nutrition, sleep, and stress management” – counselor Ana Homayoun

If teachers and students help implement Ana Homayoun’s five-step plan into their teachings and time, then this will ultimately help them significantly in the long run.

Some might say that teenagers are just lazy and don’t have the necessary brainpower to complete and manage time or specific tasks, but this is not true. Studies at Springfield Honors Academy found that nearly 70 percent of students spend at least 1 to 2 hours on their homework. This could be procrastination, but the future generation of high school scholars have also kept a 0 percent failure rate for the ELA, Math, and Biology MCAS. These students are clearly smart enough to do their work but don’t have the proper time management skills to complete it.

And despite me having a high GPA, I have faced numerous times where I have run out of time trying to finish school projects that I said I was going to do. Minutes turn into hours and hours turn into days, and no matter what happens, it always seems like I can never manage my time. But if I can find a way to change my habits for the better, than you definitely can as well.

So teachers, administrators, and other wonderful workers in the school system. Now is the time to realize that you have the power to shape a teenager’s amazing and growing brains into the future, where we can properly manage our time to achieve some amazing things! And teenagers, also remember that you have the power to take control of your time in a beneficial manner.