Maybe You’re Just Not High School Material

All children can learn
Fine. I accept this premise
Some just choose not to

I’ve sort of had it with kids who just don’t want to do anything.

If you are plainly not trying to pass my class, then piss off. You do nothing but consume resources. You are a black hole. After I have discussed with you the possible consequences of your actions, contacted your parent (assuming they have paid their phone bill recently), and offered all kinds of personalized help (including, in a recent case, purchasing a USB for you) I would think I have a moral and professional obligation to cut you loose and spend my time with students who want my help.

I’m so tired of the “we won’t give up on you” stories and rhetoric. Maybe we should give up sometimes. I gave up trying to dunk a basketball when I came to understand that I was not very tall, nor could I jump well. I also didn’t really give a shit if I could dunk or not. That just wasn’t my thing. (But there seriously were about 4 days in ninth grade when I really thought that it could happen.)

As teachers, we are regularly asked to suspend common sense and all notions of rational resource allocation. Instead we are asked to identify where we are most likely to get the least return on an investment of time and effort and throw in everything we’ve got.

Balls out. Just go for it. If you lose, then do it again.

We teach our students to make predictions by looking at events in one time and predicting what will happen next in order to improve decision making. If the purpose of education could be summed up in 26 words, that might be it. Then, as teachers, we do the opposite.

If I worked my ass off to try to get a student to work just a little bit and now he’s back in the same class again, can I really give him a clean slate? Maybe a better teacher than I could do this. You failed. You ignored everything I said. You rejected every bit of help I tried to give you. I’m done unless you show me that something is different. Now it’s on you, dipshit.

I shudder to think of how many hours of effort I have spent on students who, for whatever reason, are just not going to do it. Maybe they’re dumb, maybe they’re not. They don’t do enough work for me to tell. These have been wasted hours; hours that were therefore not spent on students who would be receptive to my help. These are hours that might as well have been spent giving myself tiny paper cuts or watching Walker, Texas Ranger.

Maybe I could find something better to do than watch Texas Ranger. But maybe some of these kids could find something better to do than waste my time. Maybe you’re just not high school material. (I’ll post a more constructive follow up to this tomorrow.)

Mr. Teachbad

6 comments

  1. Jeremy
  2. Lynn
  3. Jen

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