MY ANGLE: Life Skills course isn’t the solution to preventing stress; it’s the cause

Last year, Country Day introduced a new class for freshmen. On days when freshmen have their long period free, they attend Life Skills in room 19.

Life Skills, taught by counselor Pat Reynolds, is a class designed to help students cope with stress and improve their behavior among peers. Students talk about a variety of high-school problems like stress and peer pressure.

It’s a great concept, but here’s the thing: the scheduling might not be the best.

I’m a pretty busy person. On any given day, I’ll have multiple meetings during break for clubs, two or more Octagon articles in their first drafts and a growing amount of homework to be completed after my extracurriculars, choir and Glass Knife.

On the rare nights I can start my homework the minute I get home, I’m still not in bed before 11.

So Life Skills would be perfect for me, right? It would help me deal with stress and become more kind and social towards my peers.

Yeah, no.

During the first few classes, the class taught us that stress affects you negatively, and being kind is important.

We went around in a circle and told the class what made us feel stressed. We learned the ways you can look at a situation. We listened and stroked M&Ms before eating them to improve our mindfulness. It’s great to be mindful, but is this really the way to learn it?

Of course stress is bad and being kind is good. We know. What we don’t know is how to cope with stress and be kind. And Life Skills hasn’t taught me that.

All through the class, my mind races: “I have homework, quizzes, tests, corrections for my Octagon articles, Dutch homework –  all due so soon!”

Wait, wasn’t I supposed to be relaxed and coping with my stress? Why am I not juggling my schedule in a new, great way and being totally enlightened? As we walked out of the classroom, my peers were complaining loudly about the class.

I wouldn’t put it so harshly. Skills Class only happens once every rotation, and a lot of students deal with stress.

But why can’t Skills Class be optional? After all, if students don’t want help, they are unlikely to listen to any advice a teacher might give them, even if they need it.

Also, the class should offer more solutions. It’s great to recognize negative thinking (and something many students need), but why not teach us how to stop negative thinking? Or when we should take breaks when studying?

The concept of Life Skills is great. Mrs. Reynolds is a wonderful teacher. But until it’s provided me with a solid way to cope with my busy schedule, I’m skeptical about whether this class is really necessary for Country Day students.

By Héloïse Schep

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