Thursday, July 18, 2013

If a student does not want to be taught, can we teach him/her successfully?

Found this poll question in a Linkedin group that I am a member of:   

If a student does not want to be taught, can we teach him/her successfully? 

My answer to the poll was yes and I comment the following: 

"Absolutely YES, usually our problem with students "who do not want to be taught" is that they really just don't want to fit into our system. Our system of education is rigid and really inflexible. It may take different ways and way more time but it is always possible. Whether it can be done practically is another story, but yes we can." 

The thing I started reflecting on beyond why ask the question at all is what was the author visualizing or wanting to know.  Obviously if someone dedicated themselves to not doing something they typically succeed.  But who knows a properly cared for 6 year old who won't try somewhat for a teacher?

I think it is the previous sentence most people taking the poll did not picture.  I think most people picture an older student not doing work, refusing, being a classroom management issue.  Now the question - what happened from when they were six?  Why won't they try?

Because they have been there, done that.  They have been placed in a system that sorts and throws away.  Where staff - even the ones who believe they should reach all students, routinely lose some.  Because our system does not guide and nuture the student who does not fit or really struggles but outcasts and ostracizes them.

And if you have tried in the past and have had no success, feel no teacher believed in you or took the time to go outside the system, then why try now (it makes complete sense from an emotional perspective).  They believe school does not work for them the way it was designed (and their belief is what is most important for their ability to learn).   So once you get to that point as a teacher you need to start from scratch and found a way (ton of work, very slow return!).

Because our job is not opportunity to learn (like college), it is to prepared them for life -- and not getting the education you need to succeed should not be an option.

And when the student refuses to learn from me, and it happens - it is a failure on me.