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Perfectionism in Education: Yes or No?


“It’s either all or nothing” that is the most common phrase you can hear from a perfectionist. No matter what they do, preparing their home assignment, writing a test with or simply doing household chores, all of it should be perfectly and faultlessly done.

So who is a perfectionist? A perfectionist is a person, who seeks perfection is everything. They always know how to do the certain stuff the best way, how to stand themselves out among others and what is more, they always have a compassion for excellence and an ideal harmony. Viewed from this angle, such people are considered to be well-organized, reliable and responsible. No doubt, that sounds great, but do perfectionists have really such a sweet life?

A Life of a Perfectionist

Perfect Life

Due to the psychological researches, people who have perfectionist tendencies, don’t turn to someone for a help, as they are sure it’s a sign of their weakness. A fear to do even a little mistake, constant excitement and uncontrolled habit of checking the correctness of their actions these are most common characteristic features of a typical perfectionist. That is why some psychologists stick to the point that a perfectionism is a state of emotional disorder and neurotic deviation. The most painful thing is that such feeling of inferiority has become a common case among youngsters.

Today starting an education at university or college or other educational establishments is often a stressful period and it can lead to perfectionist tendencies. Unmanageable and complicated to-do list, sweating till late night and internal voice always reminding of self-control are prevailing characteristics of a typical student who is grinding day and night. Such students are always striving for being class leaders, because being among average mates is below their dignity.

On the one hand, perfectionist students are, as a rule, teacher’s pets, for they always try to stick strictly to deadlines, they are simply know-it-all, who can easy get the hang of the material. But on the other hand, these students are considered to be egg-heads of the class. Sometimes skiving off the classes happens to be a real disaster for them and that is the main reason why they are mostly common to be loners or kind of wall-flowers among their peers.

No doubt, for some students a perfectionist approach of studying is simply the only way they can succeed. They see no other ways how to raise their self-esteem, how to reach a perfect harmony and just be “the best of the best”. Unfortunately, such students set too high standards to themselves and try to achieve unrealistic goals and as a result feel then frustrated because of simply being unable to reach them.

In this manner, it’s easy to make a conclusion that a perfectionism is born in one’s consciousness since childhood, when parents subconsciously give love to their child only for achieving something. At this point appears a fear of making a mistake, getting an F-grade or losing a competition that is just “as easy as a pie for my child”.

So is there any place for perfectionism in education? Is it really possible to keep to a golden middle?

Golden Mean Tips

Between Two Roads

First of all, you should set reachable and realistic goals in your studying process. Keep in mind that not too perfect work done today is much better than an ideal one put off on an indefinite term.

Secondly, learn to say stop to yourself. You should realize that your home assignment or project is already done and there is no sense of further improvement. If you find it hard then ask someone to remind you that everything is ready and it's high time to look aside.

Thirdly, you should learn how to divide your stuff into main and secondary due to their importance. It’s also significant to be able to refuse from unimportant work. The problem of all the perfectionists is that they are always overladen with a great number of things to do, because they are convinced no one would cope with the job so perfectly than they definitely would. It is sometimes even better to have a little rest so that you can avoid chronical stress and panic attacks.

The fourth step is to be able to refuse from a desire to please everyone. Your teachers, tutors and professors are far from being perfect and definitely have no right to demand your tasks to be done perfect and flawless.

Fifthly, a criticism shows first of all an interest to your work. You should always remember: “He who makes no mistakes, makes nothing”. And a criticism once said to you can be treated as a hope that you can do your job even better.

And lastly, learn to turn your attention into other spheres of your life. You shouldn’t get caught in an endless loop; if your studying goes wrong, occupy yourself with another activity. It’s sometimes important to deprive yourself from an oppressive feeling “Business before pleasure”, and is more appropriate to relax during your studying at times.

To sum up, it’s worth saying that perfectionism in education has positive as well as negative influences and it’s just up to you how to manage them. Nevertheless, being a perfectionist means to have a strong desire and willingness to have your job be done perfectly well. At first glance, it seems to be great trying to do everything ideally. But the point is that a lot of students allow their desire to turn into obsessive look, they take their studying process too personally. As the result, they suffer from the fact that a written test or a made project appeared not to be faultless, but we all understand that no one is perfect.

But if your perfectionism tendencies have already turned into a serious condition, then it is necessary to get rid of them as soon as possible taking into consideration mentioned tips. And remember: a reasonable perfectionism is the most valuable skill in your education process!

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