Tuesday, February 23, 2010


I have been ruminating on the less appealing aspects of my job, in hopes of finding some way to alleviate these little workplace aggravations.

One item that bothers me is the issue of motivation. In every class, there is inevitably a percentage of students who are unmotivated to work. This causes me stress because I think that their poor academic performance will reflect badly on me. After all, it is my job to ensure that the students do well on the final exam. Their failing will be my failing. It it my job to motivate them. But how?

Wait. If a student chooses to not complete his work, and fails, then this not my failing. At least, I cannot shoulder all of the blame.

The family must take some of the responsibility. I have known kids with disastrous home lives. Situations of divorce, alcoholism and abuse severely debilitate a child's ability to succeed academically.

The students must accept at least some of the responsibility for their actions.

My role and responsibility is delimited. I'll not harass or threaten or berate my students. I'll not introduce negative tyrannical energy into my classroom nor into my ego.

At some point, I need to relinquish my grip on the students. I must let them stand or fall. As long as I know that I tried my best, then I can fail them and still sleep at night.

The language is deceptive. I am not failing them. I am assigning them a failing grade. They are failing themselves.

It is a fact of modern industrial life that some students will not graduate. Not every student will graduate from university, like I did. The students do not need to be like me. I am not the benchmark of success. I think many teachers (and parents) fall prey to this narcissistic habit of trying to shape kids to resemble who they are or who they wish they were. We shouldn't.

Some students will not attend college. Some students will work at warehouses and they will still enjoy happy and self-fulfilled lives. That's okay.

Photo by ratterrell.


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