「ST」は紙名を新たに「Alpha」として2018年6月29日より新創刊しました。 Alpha以降の英文記事はこちら
「ST」は紙名を新たに「Alpha」として2018年6月29日より新創刊しました。 Alpha以降の英文記事はこちら


Fear of Failure

By Kip A. Cates


One challenge that schools have to face is "problem students." These are students who do strange or crazy things. However, I can sympathize with them. Why? Because I was once a problem student myself!

As a child, I always studied hard and did well on tests. But there was incredible pressure to succeed. It seemed that all school wanted from us children was to memorize facts and pass tests. If we did well, people praised us. Success was everything. Failure was a fate worse than death.

As I grew older, I started to realize that I was studying not because I wanted to learn, but to please my parents and teachers. I was living for others, not for myself. And I was living in fear. With every test, I kept worrying, "What if I fail?"

Finally, the moment came to face my fear. It was my second year of university. I was a French major. It was time for my mid-term exam.

I still remember that day as if it were yesterday. We sat down at our desks. The teacher handed out the tests. "Please start," she said.

For everyone else, this was just another exam. But for me, it was much more. It was an existential moment, a turning point, a fork in the road. I was faced with an important decision — to continue to live scared or to break free from the pressure of expectations. "This is it!" I thought. "If I don't act now, I'll live the rest of my life in fear."

The next hour was slightly surreal. On the grammar questions, I filled in the blanks with nonsense words. For the vocabulary section, I circled all the multiple choice answers, even the wrong ones. For the writing section, I ignored the composition topic and wrote an angry essay — in French — about the tyranny of testing, unhealthy school pressure and the right to study without fear.

When we handed in our answers, I walked out of the room feeling strangely liberated. I was proud of myself. For the first time in my life, I had deliberately failed a test. I had faced my fear and struck a blow for freedom!

I soon got an urgent call from the French Department about my exam. It was a very awkward conversation! "Were you on drugs?" the teacher asked anxiously. "Do you feel suicidal?" It was nice of her to worry. But it was hard to explain! Luckily, I was able to make up my failed test with an extra assignment later.

All this happened a long time ago. But, thanks to that experience, I now have more compassion for "problem students" who have been traumatized by school or trapped by expectations.

Of course, tests are part of life and have to be accepted. But putting too much pressure on students isn't healthy. No one should live their life in fear!



The Japan Times ST: May 17, 2013

The Japan Times ST 読者アンケート




2018年6月29日号    試読・購読   デジタル版