Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Studying? What's that?

I wonder sometimes if my recent baptism into the cult of education has jaded me. I love to learn, to read and to figure things out. A lot was expected of me in college and I delivered. Not to toot my own horn, but I didn't just breeze through college. I did flipping great!

That having been said, I'm sure I have forgotten how hard it was like to be a teenager. Its terrible what they have to go through! Suzy Smith just broke up with Johny Jones! Oh no! What?! You don't have a date to the Social!? But he/she is so popular... you get the drift.

It seems like kids do have a lot more going on than when I was in high school, but my question is this: Why does it seem like such a foreign concept to put any effort into anything anymore?

Now, before you all comment and say, "Well, you can't expect them to perform at the collegiate level" or, "their only kids", or maybe "Give them a chance to succeed", I do all these things. I give them chances to remember; they do section reviews all the time. I tell them what I've told them, to borrow a line from the old teacher mantra. All I want them to do is to study for a test. The example I give you is the proportion of students who did not achieve a 50% or higher on the test I am currently grading. Its over half. How do I get them to study? I don't want to hold their hands and put effort in that is not being matched. To break from the purpose of this blog, I'd really appreciate any ideas you all might have. This has been happening for a while and it needs to change.


  1. My answer is not what you wanted to hear--but maybe I can reassure you that it's probably not your fault. We who know you (indeed, we who competed with you in a certain archaeology class) find it hard to picture you not doing your best in the classroom.

    The path of least resistance would be to dumb down your course content. But you wouldn't be happy with that, nor should you be. In a discipline such as history you walk through the classroom door with the odds against you--most of your students will never discover the link between history and any possible meaning to their own lives. Kids just don't think that way anymore. You could spend a day or two setting everything aside and just lecturing on why and how THEY have been shaped by the historical events which came before them . . . and how THEY themselves can actually shape history as they go through their lives. But really, you'd probably just be wasting a day of class time.

    My advice? Keep plugging along with the A+ effort you undoubtedly are already giving, and let your own example of passion for history and learning about the world speak for you. Kids can tell whether you really care about your academic discipline--and they can also intuitively tell whether you like teenagers and care about them as persons. And in time, it will either gel or it won't.

    But you will have done what God sent you there to do, and when He asks you "Where is your flock?" . . . I think if you look around, some will truly be there. Some you didn't expect.

  2. Don't lower yourself to their level; make them rise to yours. In the end they will appreciate it. During, they'll wine and moan until you're ready to shoot them.

    You know, I finally got the "coffee for students" text message you sent me. It wasn't me.

  3. First piece of advice: watch either the movie Freedom Writers or The Ron Clark Story. Better yet, read the book by Ron Clark, "The Essential 55."
    Not saying you'll find your answer in any of those, but they are inspiring, and they might boost your morale to help you keep doing the work God's called you to.
    Another little piece of advice: talk to a teacher that really inspired you. Ask them how on earth they did it.
    Glad to hear from you and know you're alive :) I heard you were in the area for a certain someone's birthday. Sad I missed you.

  4. I'd call it a lack of effort put into it. Just plain old laziness on the part of students. Why study if you can play around with your buddies? Lots of kids today are just happy with skating by with an average or barely passing grade these days, just so long as they don't have to put any extra effort into it. That of course excludes those who actually want to learn or achieve and you can definitely see a grade difference.

    Don't blame yourself, don't be afraid to put and keep the responsibility on the students, after all the grade they get more often than not is the grade they EARNED.