As a former teacher, I can confirm exactly what you are stating here about increased structure correlating with increased levels of stress, depression and anxiety in students. I witnessed it. It also applies to the teachers. It happened to me, and as much as I dislike making excuses for myself, the loss of control of my destiny proved to be the greatest factor in my decision to leave the profession. Instead of feeling inspired, I felt miserable. My out-of-school relationships began to suffer because of my dissatisfaction with my work. In my mid twenties, that was a huge blow to my whole sense of who I was.

I entered the teaching profession to help students learn in new and creative ways. I was told from an early age, and still consider myself a very creative, artistic person, with a knack for explaining complex ideas in an understandable way. This philosophy was supported and encouraged when I went to college, but when I joined the "real world," I found myself pigeonholed into a school machine that not only expected me to prepare students for the 8th Grade standardized testing, but expected that I would accomplish that goal by using the same workbook that "all the other teachers were using." I had each of my classes for double periods, a total of 90 minutes a day that the school believed spent doing workbook pages for test prep would yield glowing scores. The students hated it. I hated it. How many adults can be reasonably expected to sit still for 90 minutes at a time, doing something so boring? I felt my locus of control being choked right out of me.

In my frustration, finally I thought about why I wanted to be a teacher in the first place and began creatively teaching the skills to be evaluated as I wished - in the context of interesting literature from the likes of Edgar Allan Poe and John Steinbeck. I was, after all, in an inner city school that was having a tough time recruiting and retaining teachers and I figured what was the risk? They needed me more than I needed them. Anyway, that simple change brought about more higher level thinking and more interest from my students (with far less effort than I expected!) When March and test time rolled around, my students, while still below their suburban peers, fared better than many of those in the classes that followed the "students are widgets in a factory" model; who were all on the same textbook page on the same day.

In various capacities and grade levels, I struggled for 5 years to find satisfaction and fulfillment as a teacher and finally threw in the towel after feeling like every creative thought of my own was being suffocated by a system that deems standardized testing the "end all be all" of student (and teacher) success. They didn't want a creative teacher, they wanted a robot!

I still struggle with residual depression and anxiety, but I'm doing better these days. I'm learning to better manage the balancing act of external and internal locus of control. Sadly, for me to accomplish this, it took leaving a profession in which I feel I could have been highly successful had it not been for the stifling curriculum and expectations placed on students.