Imposter Syndrom in Education


Reading time: 3 minutes 39 seconds

Have you ever felt like being at your lowest point and anxious about your academic future?

Maybe you felt like you were on the wrong side of everything while hearing your friends’ success stories in school?

Sadly, these kinds of feelings are more common than admitted amongst people who came from a bit turbulent background, unlike many.

Imposter Syndrome is defined as the anxiety or self-doubt that results from persistently undervaluing one’s competence and active role in achieving success while falsely attributing one’s accomplishments to luck or other external forces.

A student having the early stages of Imposter Syndrome believes that overworking is the key to success, struggles to find their assets and interests, feels undeserving of praise and rewards, overlooks their achievements, and feels unwilling to connect with others, fearing the void of points in common and a matching competency.

The repercussions on the individual can be doubled when faced with destructive criticism, social marginalisation and gaslighting.

Despite many believers, Imposter Syndrome may lead back to the earliest stage of facing judgements and inequality towards one’s unique perspective. The consequences out of this can drag on for years unless healed, resulting in the full-scale collateral damage of low motivation, lack of concentration and ill-suited career choices.

Humans start their academic journey at an early stage, so not overcoming this creeping experience in its infancy and carrying it along can lead to a long-lasting phenomenon called Imposter Syndrome, from which approximately 82% of people suffered in their lifetime— according to recent studies (Li, 2020).


What May Cause An Imposter Syndrome? 

There are many ways that an individual can suffer this phenomenon from. 

It varies from person to person what goes beyond their threshold, but some are seen in the majority:

  • Parental/peer pressure
  • Wrong education model in schools

Out of 190, 66% of Indian students reported feeling pressure from their parents for better academic performance. Academic stress was positively correlated with parental pressure and anxiety.

Let us imagine a scenario of a child at such an early age struggles to fathom the concept of ‘self’. They daily attend schools. At every bit of failure in their studies, the child faces criticism from the parents, and failing or succeeding in school can easily become a life-or-death situation.

This will eventually create a solid link to how daunting the future looks in an elementary school student’s eyes. In later stages, the child is faced with strong criticism upon their life choices and interests while being pressured to follow a certain career path by their parents—despite their apathy. This renders the child afraid to speak up, gain independence and create themselves an environment to thrive.

In classrooms, being in the same environment of much more intelligent and more hardworking peers can be quite the leverage a child needs to achieve a certain level, but it also has a downside.

Oftentimes, the students are awarded by the outcome of their efforts, not by the effort itself. The student that is praised is compared to the rest of the class by either being hardworking or downright smart. Inquisitive students are frowned upon or silenced.

As children trying to adapt to the environment, they may easily think that they are surrounded by peers who are much better at studies and social skills and that their voices are unheard.


Upon the transition of becoming young adolescent, they find themselves in a never-ending competition, forfeiting the pursuit of finding their identities, hobbies, and beliefs.

Moreover, the adolescent feels burned-out, given the lack of motivation and support to push forward through the academic years and ultimately drop out. Having all these unpleasant experiences stringed together whilst an individual goes towards further stages of life, the only shortcoming is the most highlighted: Experiential Learning of our consciousness and soul.


The Solution Should Start with An Introspect

To grow a healthy plant comes with healthy grooming. Educating young people is multi-faceted: household education and school education.

Despite being in the 21st century, we, as human beings, still trouble with communicating our opinions and showing empathy to one another. Lack of counselling and compromising can lead to a more intricate conflict between two individuals.

Hence, as parents, ‘learning not studying’ about human psychology and philosophy before childbirth will be a better investment in the long haul than spending thousands of cash on a university only to see the child feeling like an outsider. 

What would be the takeaway from learning and educating about psychology and philosophy?

Psychology will help us a great deal in connecting to people knowing what they may go through, and approach them as a helping hand—appearing outside of our needs, perspectives, beliefs, traits, but solely an act of empathy.

Showing the best practices of psychology can be even stretched to university years, so long as it is backed by philosophy. By incorporating philosophical standpoints of life into the classrooms, not the curriculums, the student will be guided to see things firsthand from a broader perspective and enjoy life with its imperfections and ours.

They will learn that falling is not the end of everything. Tending to ourselves by being virtuous and kind will give everything to lead a happier, wealthier, and healthier life in its core that any currency can not purchase.

All these may not show a direct impact on society in the short term, but they will grow wiser generations, solve years of wrongdoings by educators and parents, and fix many mental problems at their root—so long as we are conscious of ourselves. 


Sources:

Schock, G. (no date) ‘How Imposter Syndrome Affects Students—and Instructors’, Todayslearner. Available at: https://todayslearner.cengage.com/how-imposter-syndrome-affects-students-and-instructors/ (Accessed: 29 March 2021)

Dictionary (2021). Impostor-syndrome. Available at: https://www.dictionary.com/browse/impostor-syndrome ( Accessed at: 29 March 2021)

Li, H. (2020) “ ‘Impostor Syndrome on a College Campus’ – Dr. Lisa Orbé-Austin’s Keynote Address to the Holy Cross Community”, The Spire. Available at: https://hcspire.com/2020/10/09/impostor-syndrome-on-a-college-campus-dr-lisa-orbe-austins-keynote-address-to-the-holy-cross-community/ (Accessed: 30 March 2021)

Moilanen, S.(2018) ‘Does Parental Pressure Play a Role in Career Choice?’. The Adams Kilt. Available at: https://theadamskilt.com/opinion/does-parental-pressure-play-a-role-in-career-choice/ (Accessed: 30 March 2021)

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