Monday, January 30, 2012

Comment on Middle School Students

In a Facebook conversation, a reader raised the question about what happens to homework trapped children in middle school. This is a lifespan issue that moves from elementary school through middle school, to high school, and into adult life. The child who is ill equipped to handle elementary school homework in a reasonable amount of time, is completely unprepared for middle school where he has four or five teachers, all giving assignments which converge into one space, the home. What these children do is they start out doing all the work for some of their teachers and none of the work for the others. Rather than get recognized and rewarded for what they did, they get criticized for the class they are failing. Then, like a house of cards, the begin to fail in successive classes, one by one. One of the worst myths about these kids is that they are unmotivated. In fact, if you watch these kids carefully, they are highly motivated at the beginning of each year. In September, they come back to school convinced that this will be a better year. They come to school with their notebooks and pencils and backpacks, sure they will do well. With four or five teachers, they have no trouble doing all the work for one or two teachers. They're happy and tell their parents they are aceing school this year. Then, they feel ashamed as the criticisms start to come in. They hide the fact that they failed to do some assignments and before long, they are treated as if they are lying and unmotivated. What gets missed is that they are highly motivated at the beginning of the year. But they can't handle the assignments. And now, it's no longer ten minutes of work that takes them twenty minutes to do, but, say they are in seventh grade, 70 minutes of work which would take them over two hours to do. It can't be done. They get misundestood. Parents are pushed by the school into ganging up on their own kids. And the kids shut down.

1 comment:

April said...

Thanks for this. I think this is an accurate reflection of what's happening with my 9th grader.