Monday, October 08, 2012

The Inflexibility of Low Aspirations

So today we started in fully with The Prince.

It feels weird. I know they're capable, but a number of them have repeatedly grumbled that they don't understand why they have to learn how to express themselves well when they can already make themselves understood. Many of them have plans to work in a family business after graduation, continuing a job they've been doing for years at this point. They've become good at it, it's familiar, and it doesn't require what I'm teaching them.

Beyond that, many of them have parents, grandparents, and other relatives who aren't readers or writers. And so these students seem to think, "Why should I learn any of this? My daddy don't read books like this, and he's all right." It's almost like making school a priority would be an insult to their family.

There isn't a whole lot of value placed on "book learnin'" among that segment of the population. There is, however, even less respect for quitters. And so these students just kind of keep their heads down and kind of expect that if they don't cause a whole lot of trouble and they pretend to pay attention and do most(ish) of their work, well, that's enough. It's like I'll leave you alone, you leave me alone, we'll both wait out the year and then be out of each other's way.

They're convinced that their current level of skill is "good enough," and it seems like nothing I do or say is ever going to convince them otherwise.

Image thanks to


Tom Roth said...
Just had my students read this last week...

Knighton said...

I understand completely what you're saying! I was watching some videos on It really is quite humbling to see what some students are doing elsewhere.

HappyChyck said...

I can relate to what you're saying. This is the first year that the district revealed to parents the new way we are looking at tests. During conferences we had graphs that showed them, according to test scores, whether their students were growing at the rate they needed to each year. Now, test scores are not everything, but with many students, I felt that the visual charts were pretty accurate. They do enough to just get by, and eventually, that amount of effort is just not enough, and they start falling behind.

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