Wednesday, May 27, 2009


Motivation can often be hard for a teacher. Abstract concepts like letter grades often slip right past most students. They understand much more concrete motivators, like "If I don't see an A, B or C, you don't see your PS3 until I do". Thankfully, most parents come through wonderfully with concrete motivators to match our abstract ones. Occasionally, however, other motivators need to be found. Sometimes it's even the child that hopefully motivates the parent to do something.

Take, for example, this conversation I had today with Andrea:
"Andrea," I said, "you haven't done anything in the last 2 weeks. If you don't make up the work soon, you'll end up failing this trimester too and you might have to be a 6th grader again next year."

"I don't care. I'll just learn the same things again." Andrea continues to doodle in her notebook.

"You don't mind being a 6th grader again? But you won't be able to talk to any of your friends."

"I'll see them after school."

(long pause) "Once you get kept back, you usually don't get caught back up again. You probably won't even graduate high school with your friends. They'll be talking about jobs and cars and you'll still be stuck in school."

"Oh, I'm not graduating."

I'm confused now. "But what are you planning to do when you grow up? Most jobs want a high school diploma."

"I'm not going to do anything". Andrea continues to doodle.

(very long pause now. Apparently only one of us has thought this plan through to its logical conclusion) "You need food to eat and a place to live. You want a car? (Andrea nods) Well, that all takes money. How will you get what you want without a job to pay for it?"

"I'm going to live with my mom."

"Until when? 20? (Andrea nods) 30? (Andrea nods) 40? (Andrea nods) You know, your mom probably won't let you live with her when your 40. Most parents expect their children to move out when they're not going to school."

Andrea shakes her head. "No, my mom will let me live with her. She can pay for everything."




................. and then I walked away.

No matter what Andrea says, I'm pretty sure mom won't be happy with Andrea's "mommie will support me" plan for life. And I sent her an e-mail detailing this conversation, just to be sure.

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