I try not to get upset when students do not fulfill their potential. I try not to take it personally when they make poor decisions. But not many things irk me more than a student who is perfectly capable of doing an assignment who gives up and does not even try. My own children are not allowed to say “can’t.” Really, they get punished for saying those words. Attitude matters.
What if you worked at a company that designed, produced, and distributed software? The company would have designers, engineers, manufacturers, a distribution chain, etc. What would happen if the designers didn’t submit a design? Or the engineers didn’t bother to write the code? What if the manufacturer didn’t feel like manufacturing the product, or someone along the distribution chain had a bad day? People would get fired, or the company would fail and everyone would lose their job.
A teacher is paid to teach. If a teacher requires students to read so they can do a lesson the next day, like a discussion or activity, then what should the teacher do if the students don’t read? Many people would say, just read it to them. The argument is that students are not capable of reading on their own — they won’t do it, they can’t understand it on their own, or it won’t interest them. (Better just to let the benevolent rulers interpret the laws and rules because the common people lack the education and expertise to understand on their own. We will just tell you what it says and means, don’t hurt yourself trying to think!) Even if the teacher did do this, it takes a long time to read a book aloud.
Well, maybe the teacher can “dumb it down” without calling it “dumbing it down.” Here are some chapter summaries, or here is an important passage to read, or — here, let me tell you what happened so you don’t need to do anything on your own. That’s kind of like college where you never had to read the homework because the professor just summarized it all and gave you organized notes on it the next day. I’ve tried to entice students into reading by giving them part of the story in class and leaving off at a point of great interest or climax to try to build up suspense, but the next day no one ended up looking in the book; they just wanted me to tell them the answer.
How about quizzes or cloze activities or a graphic organizer? How about working with a partner or a team? How about an open-book assignment so they can just look up the section in class? The bottom line is, no matter what you plan for the next day, you won’t be able to do the activity if it depends on students reading. Or maybe it’s just me…
Kids today are busier than ever, right? Busier than when they used to do chores on the farm, take care of siblings, cook from scratch over a stove, hand-wash the dishes, make their own clothing, hand-wash and line-dry their clothes, walk to and from school seven miles in the snow…wait, modern convenience eliminated most of these responsibilities. So what are they actually doing with their time? Here’s my guess. Yet, they still don’t have time for homework. Sad.