Disengaged Students at the Secondary Level May Have a Bad Relationship With School.

School is an interesting thing to me sometimes when I think about it. I like to look at school as a relationship between teachers and students with content or curriculum as the connection. So let’s let that sink in for a moment…

I have been married for almost 20 years. I love my wife dearly. We have had some arguments like everybody else. We have different opinions on life, parenting, cars (I want a really expensive sports car haha!). Early on in a relationship, everything is great. It is new. It is fresh. It is interesting. Then as time goes on, in order to continue to make a relationship work, one has to work on a few things. The most common thing I have found that my wife and I have had to work on over the last 5 or 6 years is accepting our differences. My wife and I discovered what we were good at when it came to working in our household, on our relationship, and parenting. We share those positives with each other and build on them.

I have several friends and family members who have had failed marriages. It is a hard thing to go through. There can be bad blood between people. Couples usually don’t have the same friends after a breakup. Many of those breakups occur because the couple can’t get past what each doesn’t do well. They will argue and fight over differences of opinions. Bad marriages have each party constantly remind each other what they do bad.

YOU are not important because school doesn’t value what you are good at. You break up with school.

This is where I see many high school students who are considered “failures” in a new light. Think about how school is set up. At first (kindergarten) it is exciting and fun. If you are a student who does well in the core classes like reading, writing, math, history and science, you have a great relationship for 12 years in education. You are constantly reminded you are good at subjects. Teachers constantly praise you. It is a “loving” relationship. Now imagine that you are not good at math or writing. Imagine you are an amazing artist or musician but can’t figure out algebra. What happens in school? You guessed it. You are identified as “slow” or “remedial” in math. Alarm bells go off. Teachers and administrators contact your parents and let them know you are not good at that subject. You are probably pressured by your parents because they don’t want a “slow” kid. The anger seed is planted. School sucks. School no longer is fun and doesn’t like you. The people who are good at school become enemies. Nobody sees you doing what you are actually good at. It is not important in a school culture. YOU are not important because school doesn’t value what you are good at. You break up with school.

As a teacher I have been guilty of not trying to understand what students are good at. Frustration on both the student’s part as well as the teacher’s part happens when this occurs. Why don’t we build people on what they are good at first then adapt core education to that? It seems that we would have a lot less break-ups between schools and students. The students would move from being good at something to being great at something! Just something I think about when I try to #disrupteducation for the better of ALL students!