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Help for a Unmotivated Student

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This topic contains 8 replies, has 5 voices, and was last updated by avatar dinoceros 5 months ago.

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  • #743067 Reply

    I am in a program at my school and we mentor kids who are at risk for not graduating. I’m having trouble with my student. It’s kind of a long explanation.

    He’s smart but he does not try. He likes to argue, so it’s harder to get through to him.

    He will get assignments and claim they are too easy, that he already knows the material, and that they are just busy work, but then he does not complete them or gives short answers, causing him to receive a low score on the assignment. And he often does not even hand the assignments in. I do not actually think he is learning because he seems to dismiss it completely. He likes to say that he already knows how to do something, which he clearly does not.

    He also says that he does not have homework often, which I believe him most of the time. But I did contact his teachers and some of them gave me work of his.

    I don’t know how to get through to him and make him understand that he needs to do work. He seems to have goals but is not quite sure what he wants. He also hates the activities his school makes him do, and I don’t blame him.

    I had a bad attitude in high school, but I never thought that any of my work was useless. He seems to have that mindset. My group leader and I have tried to tell him that the assignments matter and it will get him into college. He doesn’t seem to like goals or goal-setting. He doesn’t seem to even want anything, just to make it through without doing anything.

    He has the ability to pass and do very well. But he does not have the right mindset. He is very argumentative. It’s bad enough that I can’t convince him to do anything. I’m starting to feel personally responsible and I don’t know what to do. I’m still trying to seek help from my superiors, but I need more help.

    I’m open to literally anything. I’m desperate at this point.

    #743079 Reply

    Why would you be pushing a kid who won’t complete basic assignments to go to college? I would try to get him to identify his goals and a plan for how to achieve them. Does he exhibit any interests that could steer him towards a vocation? Is he good with his hands? Does he like cooking or plants or figuring out how things work? College is not the right path for everyone and I struggle to see how a kid who wouldn’t graduate high school without intervention would thrive in that environment.

    #743089 Reply

    He is not your responsibility in the grand scheme of things. You are a college student, right?
    Keep telling your advisor or group leader what you’ve written and stop trying to force him. His fate is in his own hands. Is anyone in contact with his guidance counselor, or parents?

    This is not your problem, really. Some people are not cut out for college.

    Argue right back. Steer him towards the debate team. Think outside of the box. What IS he good at? Stop pushing. He’s clearly just going to push right back.

    #743169 Reply

    Sounds like the kid needs a passion. A good friend of mine almost failed high school and no he has a 3.9 gpa at a very hard state university. The reason? He hates doing boring things but loves doing things he enjoys!
    So he spends hours programming and learning Roman history but my friend instantly drops classes like his STS class (very easy class) because he will not do boring things no matter what.

    Sometimes it takes time for people to find a passion. Perhaps the kid your dealing with is smarter than all of us college students, cause he’s not wasting time with things he doesnt care about also?
    Perhaps he might like something outside of college, like MMA or being a scuba diving instructor.
    In the end maybe instead of pushing him to follow one path, try to help him find the right path for him!

    #743173 Reply
    Northern Star

    I agree with juliecatherine. Your job is to get this student to graduate high school—college would not be a good choice for him, and there’s no way it’s going to be motivation for him to suddenly start doing schoolwork.

    He is not your personal responsibility, and what he chooses to do after high school is not your concern. Focus on your job: getting him to graduate high school. You may be successful doing that if you call his bluffs. You know he’s a bald-faced liar.

    Don’t plead with him. Be business-like. You don’t care if learns or if he likes the syllabus (NOBODY cares if he likes the syllabus). You care if he completes the assignments.

    If your superiors don’t find this situation important enough to offer more help, and he doesn’t graduate, then that’s that. You have done your best.

    #743202 Reply

    Dear Sara:

    Reads to me that this student is stuck in anger, that he is angry in the context of his home life and that anger spills to the context of school. If you can figure out what troubles him at home (counseling perhaps), if he gets the attention he needs for what troubles him, he will be less angry and more available to study and move forward otherwise.


    #743206 Reply

    Omg, please. Tons of kids hate school. That’s not necessarily a sign of anger or a bad home life. Think about the useless assignments, stupid paperwork and tests that, in the end, are pretty goddamn meaningless. Add in being a child with this administration, rampant bullying, social media, add in 7,000 kids killed at school since Sandy Hook, and I’m right there with him.
    If anything, his obvious mental capacity and resistance to conformity mark him as intelligent, not angry.
    Help him see these assignments are a means to an end. He’ll get less pushback, and more freedom if he just grins and bears it.

    #743219 Reply
    Northern Star

    Tons of smart kids are simply lazy, too.

    Almost NOBODY likes to learn history or do math problems or write essays or do any of the numerous activities kids need to do to graduate high school. He needs to get over it. If he doesn’t and doesn’t graduate, I guess he can have fun working at McDonalds (until his job is phased out by automation).

    Focus on the kids who actually try. You can’t force a lazy person to do anything.

    #743275 Reply

    I think your job is as sort of a coach? You can’t make someone try and you can’t make them want to go to college. (Where he’s at right now, college would be a waste of money and discourage him more — he needs to get to a place where he WANTS to go to college and has proven he can motivate himself).

    What I would suggest is that instead of trying to make him do things your way, back off and just try to be a kind person to him. Talk with him. Listen to him. I imagine he has a lot of people in his life telling him what to do and how to be. Maybe he just needs someone to NOT do that and to just accept him as an autonomous person who can decide what he wants to do.

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