The news site of Hinsdale Central High School

Devils' Advocate

The news site of Hinsdale Central High School

Devils' Advocate

The news site of Hinsdale Central High School

Devils' Advocate

The Pursuit of Perfection

Courtesy of Wikimedia

My AP Euro teacher lays my test down on my desk. An 89. I look over at my friend. 94. Ugh, I was just one tiny point away from the A. If I could just get an A, then I’ll stop stressing, then I’ll finally be satisfied with my grade. 

Hinsdale Central is a school celebrated for its high achieving students and rigorous classes, but behind this facade of academic achievement comes the harsh reality of being a student there. Hinsdale Central has a culture of perfectionism, where it is the norm for students to be pitted against each other in an unhealthy competition to be the “best”. This toxic environment not only hurts students’ well-being, but also misconstrues the genuine meaning of education. District 86 needs to change this culture to promote progress over perfection. 

Students are taught to believe that they are only successful when they have reached the idealized perfection: participating in sports, clubs, having a social life, while taking difficult classes and getting good grades. The pressure to maintain this picture perfect image of themselves results in an exhaustible amount of stress on students, leaving them no time to rest. According to psychologists, Thomas Curran and Andrew P. Hill in their article from the Harvard Business Review, perfectionists set themselves up for “failure and psychological turmoil” and are likely to develop anxiety disorders. If a person’s only goal is to reach unreachable perfection, no matter what, they will be disappointed in themselves. 

This creates a sense of rivalry between students, as they all feel that they need to be the smartest. Instead of students all working together and helping each other learn and grow as human beings, they are focused on how they, individually, can do the best. This undermines the community in Hinsdale Central and isolates students. 

Story continues below advertisement

The US is currently in a mental health epidemic, with 42% of high school students feeling persistently sad or hopeless (Curtin). Hinsdale Central’s hostile environment is only adding on to this horrific problem by increasing anxiety, depression, and burnout. When kids become burnt out they “just don’t want to do anything” and many turn to substance abuse (Students in Top High Schools Try to Cope). By forming this toxic culture, Hinsdale Central is negatively contributing to the mental health crisis and addiction of teenagers. 

Yes, healthy competition and high standards can be beneficial for kids, and allow them to reach their full potential. I, myself, am motivated by the standards I set for myself and friendly competition, but I have also felt the effects of when it becomes unhealthy.

In order to fix this problem, Hinsdale Central needs to change their culture by celebrating individual student growth, encouraging self reflection, and creating a more supportive community. By creating a more inclusive environment, students can feel valued for who they are, rather than their success and achievements. Hinsdale Central should also provide resources for mental health, such as information on stress management, counseling, and talking openly about mental health. 

By acknowledging and addressing this problem, Hinsdale Central can initiate change to make kids love learning again.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All Devils' Advocate Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *