Q&A With: Ms. Poce

Addy Huth

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






As a student who often struggles with the idea of perfection, I thought that it would be interesting to interview my guidance counsellor, Ms. Poce, on the idea of perfection and her thoughts and opinions on the subject. Ms. Poce did an excellent job of answering my questions eloquently and with detail so the product is truly engaging and beneficial for students who have a really hard time with stress and anxiety that stem from the need to be perfect.

Do you believe that a student can achieve perfection?

No… and that’s not because we don’t have amazing students, I think that it’s because the idea of perfection in general is a bit flawed. I mean, I don’t think we as guidance counsellors want students and teachers to think about being perfect… because it is a lot of pressure.

Do you think that students should abandon the idea of being perfect?

That’s a tough one. There’s a tension there between having a goal to do something amazing, and we want girls to want to take risks and reach for things like that, we have high expectations. So, I guess I don’t think it’s about abandoning the idea of perfection, but maybe it’s more about reaching for excellence instead. Because being perfect comes with an absolute end goal that you can and should achieve, and like I said before I don’t think that’s realistic. But, achieving excellence means really reaching for something… maybe there’s just more wiggle room with excellence.

In your experience, does that mentality aid or hinder a student’s performance?

I don’t think there’s a blanket answer to that question, but in my experience I have seen it hinder more than help. Again, because it seems unrealistic and I think it sometimes comes from outside influences. So, again, teachers do have high expectations, and students also have very high expectations for themselves, but there are also outside pressures that muddy the waters of what being perfect really means. You see, a lot of students struggling with what they think is going to be okay versus what a parent or a teacher, or society thinks should be perfect. So, more often than not, I would say that it hinders.

What effect does that mentality have on a student’s mental health? Does it have any effect?

The two are absolutely linked. There is a huge connection between thinking that you should be a certain way and achieving a certain thing, and what happens when that doesn’t happen; what happens when you perceive others around you as able to do those things… I think it can cause great anxiety versus stress, right? Everybody gets stressed about studying for tests and exams and having things due, which is all part- and -parcel of managing being a student, but I think it can really start to affect people who haven’t built up resilience.

Can you think of any conditions that exist at BSS that make students feel they need to be perfect?

Probably. I think that, again, we have really high achieving students. We are also a university prep school. So there’s always that. I think that there are a lot of myths about which universities are “good”, so I think there are some unrealistic goals, and ones that are not necessarily true. I think that girls can be very quietly competitive and there is a lot of “who is more stressed than the other” and I think, without meaning to, can inspire an anxious or a stressful reaction in another. I think girls tend to put a lot more pressure on themselves, I really do. I’ve worked in a boys school, and I’ve worked in a coed school, and I think for girls it is a personal thing. Boys seem to blame mistakes on outside things, and girls tend to take it very personally and blame themselves. So, my hope and my vision is to work with students about that misconception that there has to be something wrong with you personally if something isn’t working out.

Is this idea of perfection systematic in the way we grade/evaluate students?

I think that it’s hard to move away from thinking that a certain grade is better than another, so, again, there may be that feeling of “well if i’m not getting good grades than i’m not as good as someone else.” So, yes … I know BSS works really hard educating students and parents about academic levels and how we use conversations and observations, and the way we do our assessments and evaluations to really try to get students to not focus on the grade. But, the reality is that as a university prep school, we are also saying: you need certain grades to get into certain programs. It’s a big tension. We have to grade things – students have to have grades when they leave, but I am confident in saying that BSS teachers are much more concerned with what a student learns rather that what grade they achieve.

What is your advice to students that are obsessed with the idea of being perfect?

Well, I think it would help to have really good and honest friends around you – I think having honest conversations with parents around things that they don’t know are putting pressure on you. I’ve only ever met parents that want the best for their daughters, but even then we put pressures on our kids without meaning to, we might push too hard when we should be stepping back. So, surrounding yourself with good friends that you can be honest with and talk to without being judged when you’re having a hard day, or a course isn’t going well, or you really are stressed about something and you need to talk about you. Really looking at your learning profile and trying to match what you are strong at, and interested in, with future goals, and if you have goals that you’re not meeting- to be realistic about what you can do about that. So, it’s not always about doing more work. It might be about doing different work or it might be about realizing that you really aren’t engaged with the class. Having outside interests is huge too. I know that having outside interests gives you a sense of other things that are important, and being in those environments allows you to say: “oh yeah there are other ways that I am successful!”

Well, thank you so much Ms. Poce. This interview was not only an intriguing insight as to what teachers and guidance counsellors understand about students facing the idea of perfection, it was also extremely beneficial to learn about what we as students should consider when we are so overcome by this often debilitating ideology.

Leave a Comment

If you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a gravatar.




Navigate Right
Navigate Left
  • Q&A With: Ms. Poce

    Life

    Q&A with: Ms. Macnab

  • Q&A With: Ms. Poce

    Life

    New 150th Sweaters

  • Q&A With: Ms. Poce

    Life

    Q&A with: Molly From the Student Centre

  • Life

    Q & A with: Michael from Housekeeping

  • Q&A With: Ms. Poce

    Life

    150th Celebrations at BSS

  • Life

    Balancing Homework and Social Life

  • Q&A With: Ms. Poce

    Arts

    Student Poem: Growing Trees

  • Editorial

    Editorial: The role of tradition at BSS

  • Q&A With: Ms. Poce

    Life

    Q&A with: Ms. Macnab

  • Opinion

    Canada’s failing indigenous assimilation system

Q&A With: Ms. Poce