Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Last Days

Tomorrow is the last day of school. Finally. It has dragged on this yaer and my kids have just not excelled, to say the least. I guess I should be grateful that they actually get up and go without too much fuss -- because some of you, I'm sure, have kids that won't. And we've only had a few suspensions this year -- most of them in-school suspensions. Their behavior has been fairly tolerable -- so again I should be grateful. I've not had to go and pick any of them up and bring them home and every discipline situation has been handled with phone calls. Again, I should be grateful for that fact, even though there have been many, many calls.

I'm most thankful to be done with one particular child who can't get her butt out of bed and out to the van on time if her life depends on it. This annoying habit has driven me to the point of distraction daily. Many times she gets left and has to get herself to school, but that requires getting in vehicles of people we don't know which leads her to ignoring another one of my guidelines. And I'll just be glad to have the year over where her social life is the only thing in the world that matters. It will be a miracle if she passes three of the classes she is currently bordering on failing based on how well and how much she studied for her finals last night.

As you can see, it will be a relief to get this year over with. Hopefully over the summer something will click for a few of these kids and their futures will start to matter.

Bart and I have talked many times about this lack of motivation and desire to make something of their lives. He and I were both raised in situations where we knew we would have to pay our own way to college. Thanks to Ronald Reagan, we got lots of financial aide, but neither of our families could help with that expense and so we both knew our grades for scholarships and working part time was a requirement.

So what is with our kids? Do we do too much for them (they have to earn all the money we give them and always have, even the ones who were with us when they were preschoolers). Does our lower middle-class life seem to them to have been given to us without effort and therefore they expect it? Is it their peers who seem to have no responsibilities whatsoever at home and no expectations from their parents? Would it be different if they had other peers?

We have tried consequencing, rewarding, threatening, begging, and almost any other tactic you can think of to get them to be motivated for their futures and it doesn't help. They are all mediocre or worse students. And for two people who got less than a few Cs combined from preschool to post-Masters, this is really tough to accept.

So -- I'll trade the frustration of poor performance in school and trying to get a certain someone out the door on time for three months of complete frustration that they are spending their summers doing ABSOLUTELY. NOTHING.

Guess I just like to whine. Speaking of whining, Minnesota weather is almost always worth whining about. 103 yesterday. A month ago it was snowing. What is UP?


momma-o-minnie said...

I think that this generation of kids have erroded work ethics. I would love to place the blame squarely on the public schools since they have continued to water down education and lower standards (and I know since I am a teacher.) But I think that is too simplistic. I would love to blame the fact that we have become too tolerant, but again this is simplistic.
When I taught on the border between the US and Mexico, I observed something fascinating. The first generation of people who immigrated to the US-legal or not- worked hard, learned English, purshed their children. They appreciated what they had obtained. Sometimes the second generation would do this as well. But by the third generation, most of the children of the children of the children of the immigrants and become complacent. And this continued.
I am not insulting a race, here. I have a point. In the generation of adults that started the 50's and 60's, people worked hard - the work ethic was strong, people cared almost too much.
In the 70's and 80's, people started to stop caring about how hard they needed to apply themselves. I started to work in this generation, and I remember college students going on trips, relying on their parents for help, cars, etc. By the 90's and into 2000, there is absolute complacency amonst students. Even in the poorest of students, there is an attitude that people deserve just because they are - not because of what they have worked for it....
Anyhow, Students have stopped working as hard - fewer and fewer put honest effort in - our hands are held by rules and regulations about what we can and cannot do about behaviors, attitudes and work.
Unless society changes their standards, we are bound to have our children's children become even more complacent. At least they get to deal with what they did. The old mother's curse, "I hope you have a child just like you" will most likely come true.

Lisa said...

I watched a documentary recently that stated that while US students score dismally low in math and science, they score #1 in "thinking" their doing well in those (and many other) areas. They "think" they're doing well? What's that about? I honestly think we've been so consumed with bolstering their self-esteem that the kids start to think they can do no wrong, that their efforts are good enough simply because they show up. My oldest son was a great student, rarely cracked a book, always made honor roll, graduated very high in his class. My second child, a girl, worked REALLY hard to get good grades, I mean obsessively hard. Things did not come as easily to her - she had to study - and she did. My son dropped out of college, my daughter just graduated from college with a 4.0. That tells you something doesn't it? Now, I have 5 adopted children who are horrible students. They simply don't care to learn. They have very few interests and even less motivation. Everything is too hard, in spite of one having a very high IQ, two being in the mid-average range and two lower than average. The youngest is 7 and LOVES learning. He is a breath of fresh air after 5 kids and 13 years of torture trying to get them to do the bare minimum.

I'm awfully glad school is done for the year as well!