Teaching kids who are not motivated to learn wears on you. Sure, Hollywood movies make it all seem as if being in a job where a large amount of kids who are not motivated to participate in their own education simply requires one simple “epiphany” (either by the teacher or the students) in order to right the ship and send everyone off into a bright, bold and bountiful future… but the reality of it is much different.
It challenges you. It frustrates you. It makes you call into question why you even bother to do this kind of work. And anyone who does not pay heed to these ideas doesn’t know what it means to be on the front lines, what it means to be working in a school with an outrageous dropout rate… what it means to try and care more about a kid’s education more than the kid (or the parent of the kid) does themself.
To take liberties with an old cliche’, “You can lead a student to knowledge, but you can’t make them think.”
Indeed there are days where I feel like the Pied Piper, where no matter what I do with a class of students, they are on the bus, all in, eager, excited and fired up to go push our boundaries into a whole host of new, exciting intellectual directions.
But there are scores of kids who just don’t play ball floating through our American schools. Their attendance is horrible, their homework is non-existent and their sense of actually wanting to take an active role in their own education is horrifically low. And then, when they show up at the end of the year, having missed 8 of the 14 prior days of class, without even attempting to give a half-hearted effort at turning in a final project, what do you do?
It wears on you.
I’ve already spent so many of the arrows in my quiver. I’ve yelled. I’ve cajoled. I’ve been soft and cut slack and I’ve been firm and drawn lines in the sand. I’ve tried to get other people at school to join forces, I’ve made attempts to work with parents… what more is there to do? 7 days of school left and there is no way for this kid not to get an F… and I am sure that my class is not the only one like this for this student.
And then NCLB comes in and paints me and my school district as if it’s our fault that these kids are under-performing.
Is it the dentist’s fault when a patient gets a cavity?