It's interesting reading how
teachers react to certain kinds of students.
They are most often indignant with students not doing homework and not
completing assignments. A good student
is someone who turns in all their work, has it done neatly and completely and
on time. Even if they aren't the highest
achievers, if they can do those things, they will usually be seen as good
students. These good students are striving for A's all the time, with an
occasional B. Apparently, most teacher bloggers seem to be from that fine
"good student" tradition, and they can not understand why any of
their students wouldn't do likewise.
I am not from that "good
student" tradition. I hated
homework and never did a lick of it in high school. If I couldn't get it done in class, I
probably wouldn't do it at all. And
those assignments that I did turn in were rarely complete, almost always sloppy
and often turned in late. If at
all. I wasn't disruptive in class, and
didn't back-talk my teachers. In fact, I
did listen and participate in class. But
written work was painful for me, who has terrible handwriting. I was always gigged on neatness.
Also, getting an 'A' was not a
goal of mine. I was keen to learn, but I
hardly saw how doing half-a-dozen worksheets demonstrated how smart I was. I did, however, do well on tests. Especially standardized tests. So year after year, my mother would talk to
my teachers who would tell her, "He has all kinds of potential, but he
just won't do the work!" Most of
the homework given by teachers is crap.
Sorry for being so blunt, but I've yet to see much in the way of
homework that is worth doing. So you
see, I'm still belligerent. College is
more self-directed, and I do see more value in what goes on there.
I recognized early on that
getting a 'C' was not the end of the world.
Neither was a 'D'. I even got an
'F' or two. I might have gotten 2 or 3
'A's in high school and a handful of B's.
My high school GPA was a 2.06.
But my attendance was near perfect.
And sure enough, I haven't been asked for my H.S. GPA in over 2 decades.
My son is now bringing homework
home and he seems to have inherited my attitude as well as my poor fine motor
skills. So much of what is sent home for
him to work on is "busywork" that requires his mother (and on rare
occasions, his father) to stand over him.
The boy is in kindergarten but reads on the 3rd or 4th grade reading
level, making him smarter than I was at his age. He is in the accelerated reader program and
has gotten perfect scores on nearly every test he's taken. But he drives his teachers batty by not doing
his work. His mother was a good student,
so she shares your collective exasperation at my lackadaisical attitude.
I did get a 2 point something
for an undergraduate GPA. College was
harder and it did take awhile to become more self-directed. But, again, no one has asked about my college
GPA. Or my GRE scores. You don't care about mine and I could care
less about yours.
In my Master's program and all
classes since, I've gotten A's all the way.
I finally, after 30 years, decided to apply myself in my studies. But it
was never about the 'A', it was about increasing my knowledge and skills. In my graduate studies I too frequently
encountered an attitude of "Just give me the 'A' and the degree so I can
get out of here!" Fact is, without
imbibing some knowledge, the grade is meaningless, and the work done to get it
even more so.
In primary and secondary school,
I frustrated my teachers. When one of my
ex-teachers heard I was going to be teaching EBD, she said, "Nice to know
someone is getting into the business that knows something about it!" I was, in fact, referred for testing for
special education in the 7th grade by a teacher who I frustrated with my
laziness. Mom was hoping they'd find
something, but she was disappointed to learn that I just had a lack of
motivation as opposed to some sort of legitimate disability..
To those of you presently
frustrated by students who are apparently lazy, like I was, I want to say that
it isn't personal. Chances are, a kid
who finds your work not worth doing probably finds the work most other teachers
assign isn't worth doing. I generally
liked all my teachers. I didn't take the
'F's and zeros personally. Just because
I didn't care about my grades didn't mean that I didn't like learning.
To this day, I still abhor
redundancy and busy work, which causes a few problems in my work as a special
education teacher. We live and die by
the paperwork we have to produce. I have
been known to procrastinate, cut a corner or two on the forms and generally
annoy my supervisors just a bit regarding forms that are due. I'm focused on my students and their parents,
not the pencil pushers at the county office.
Thanks to the computer, I am a writer and my stuff is evaluated more on
content rather than my scrawly handwriting.
I'd like to hear about other
poor-ish students who made good later in life.
Any other teachers who ascended from the ranks of academic mediocrity?