Burnout, and in particular, teen burnout, has become an issue of fundamental concern as it is positively correlated with negative behavior and emotional outcomes, such as substance abuse, alcoholism, emotional breakdown, depression, fatigue and the proliferation of antisocial behavior.
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Perhaps these reasons may have informed the needs of the author of the article “Teen Burnout can be Hard to Spot” to shed more light on the issue of teen burnout by summarily discussing a research study of 770 Finnish students aimed at analyzing how students entering high school exhibit burnout (Barton para. 2).
The topic of teen burnout is of immense importance to educators, parents and other relevant stakeholders, but the author, in my view, has failed to illuminate the topic in a way that could assist all those concerned, particularly educators, parents and students, to deal with it.
Going by the research findings of the Finnish study, the author of this particular article does well to postulate that girls and boys react to school stress in different ways, but he is economical on providing a systematic analysis on these ‘different ways’ he talks about, preferring to use the lame excuse of school pressures as the predominant determinant of teen burnout in school settings.
Indeed, the author associates pressures of school life with cynicism and the development of a negative attitude toward society (Barton para 2). While this may be so, the author fails to outline other dynamics that could equally lead male students to develop cynic behavior and a negative attitude toward society.
A comprehensive discussion of the recently released Finnish study, in my view, would have included what other research articles have said on the topic of teen burnout.
More important, experience demonstrates that teens in high school may experience serious emotional burnout occasioned by minor issues, such as lack of proper time management, lack of interest in the academic discourse, and attitude toward education or instructors.
The inclusion of such information in the article, in my view, could have added important insights into the effective management of teen burnout.
The author, it seems, provides some useful information on teen burnout by illuminating a major research finding, which suggests that “…boys experience a strong crisis concerning a sense of disconnectedness” (Barton para. 3).
This, in my view, is a good point, but only for professional psychologists, psychiatrists and counselors who understand the concepts of ‘crisis’ and ‘disconnectedness.’ To the average parent or educator in school settings, these concepts may be difficult to understand, not mentioning that the author does not make any attempt to expound on the concepts.
Personal experience as well available literature demonstrates that a crisis in life does not necessarily lead to a feeling of loss, confusion or disconnectedness; rather, a crisis may lead to the development of a strong and resilient character and behavior depending on the methodologies that are employed to handle the crisis.
Consequently, it can be argued that the author of the article has engaged in providing half-baked truths of the issue of interest without taking the initiative not only to evaluate the dynamics of the problem but also the cause-effect paradigms.
It is true that a crisis can lead to teen burnout, but equally it can lead to a strong character and reinforced dedication if it is harnessed using the right channels.
As such, the author should have spent more time illuminating the channels that may lead a crisis to turn into a serious emotional burnout, such as lack of adequate information and lack of support services.
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The author of the article is at it again by citing a good research finding, which suggests that girls internalize stress hence become susceptible to feelings of inadequacy in school settings, leading to depression (Barton para. 4).
Despite citing this important finding, the author fails to make an impact due to her version of providing inadequate information that may be of little or no consequence to the average stakeholder.
For instance, the author should have taken time to illuminate the fact that stress is not the same as burnout although both oscillate along the same continuum, and that feelings of inadequacy are more likely to lead to stress than to emotional burnout.
Sustained stress is what leads to burnout, and there is a big difference between burnout and depression. As it stands, the author of the article insinuates that depression is synonymous with burnout, which is a wrong representation of the facts.
We are increasingly depressed by every day life experiences, but that does not automatically translate into the fact that we suffer from emotional burnout. Equally, high school students may experience some form of depression arising from the many academic demands set upon them by their instructors, but this does not necessarily translate into burnout.
The original research study found that pressure at school is not always negative, a fact that the author elaborates correctly by citing the researchers’ observation that it is imperative to provide teenagers not only with adequate stimulation to prepare them for the demands of life, but also with the right kind of challenges (Barton para. 6).
This assertion, in my view, can greatly assist parents and stakeholders to mould responsible teenagers with the right kind of stamina and attitude to withstand and conquer the challenges that may eventually lead to emotional burnout.
However, there is inadequacy in argument on the part of the author since she could have mentioned some of the methodologies that could be used to assist teenagers achieve adequate simulation, such as receiving encouragement to think positively, spiritual nourishment, and role-modeling.
Additionally, instructors in school settings should be encouraged to provide the students with reasonable assignments and justifiable time-frames.
Finally, the author reports findings that “…boys and girls on the more competitive academic track were much more likely to suffer from burnout” (Burton para 7). Equally, it was acknowledged “…that the less demanding vocational track offered a more supportive environment than enhance feeling of competence and relatedness” (Burton para. 7).
Although the findings may be correct in their own right, it is generally felt that the author is only engaging in rhetoric since she does not care to provide supporting evidence as well as explain the dynamics behind these associations. The involved stakeholders, in my view, need to be told that competition comes with its consequences, and so does a non-competitive environment.
The onus really should be for the stakeholders, particularly students, parents and instructors, to come up with checks and balances that will provide direction to the learning discourses in school settings and ensure that no single approach leads to negative ramifications.
For instance, students engaged in competitive class environments may be encouraged to join support groups and the many sports activities available in school so that they have effective channels to vent out their stress and frustrations. This type of information, other than merely describing facts, is what is needed to ensure that students adequately deal with burnout.
Barton, Adriana. “Teen Burnout can be Hard to Spot.” Globe and Mail 18 March 2012. Web. <https://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/parenting/teen-burnout-can-be-hard-to-spot/article554154/>