- February 16, 2018 at 6:21 PM #45569
What are ways to help older (fully capable) students want to reach their full potential instead of trying to get by with the least amount of effort possible?
- February 16, 2018 at 9:28 PM #45576
Apathy is a difficult issue to deal with, and yet we all deal with it in some measure both in ourselves and in the students. In the classroom when there are several students caught in this trap, it feels like a dark cloud, so discouraging because it affects the general atmosphere. So what causes some students to become apathetic? They have not always been that way — we are all born with a deep curiosity about the world around us. Every student is passionate about something. What kills the curiosity (and hence the desire to put forth effort)? For starters, things I think of are: memories of past failures, and fear of more failure, or a wounded spirit from cutting words. These all can kill that desire to learn. Any or all of these may have happened years before they entered your classroom. Two stories I am thinking of that fit here are: one year I grieved as I watched a student of mine go from working hard to becoming quite listless. One day the Lord answered my pleas for wisdom by clearly causing me to know that I had wounded her spirit by my response to a specific incident. Actually two incidents. And then He also clearly opened the door for me to acknowledge that to her. Initially her eyes did not meet mine, but after a clear confession and prayer, she looked me in the eyes and I knew forgiveness had been gained. It made a difference in her attitude about school. The second story comes from years ago when a friend who deeply feared failure refused to put any effort into his schoolwork — until the teacher found something he was passionate about and opened a door for him to succeed in that area. It made a big difference. I don’t know that this speaks to your situation since the reasons for apathy can be quite varied, but I offer the thoughts that came to me.
- February 17, 2018 at 10:29 AM #45586
While it is quite true that failures, fears, and wounds can indeed squelch a student’s motivation, one can be free of them and still be quite apathetic. To be apathetic is to be empty of feeling/emotion and interest. A major contributor to apathy is the passivity and disengagement cultivated by screen time. It seems that there’s a direct correlation between time fixated on the screen and increased apathy toward most traditional activities once considered important, including reading, writing, listening, face-to-face conversation…
Those of us who witnessed the digital world birth can work to keep alive the concept of “using” it as a tool. Those who grow up in it are enculturated to “live, move, and have their being” digitally.
The result is that teaching is becoming more and more of a cross-cultural experience. If the digital is the “heart language” of children, we have quite a challenge before us.
- February 17, 2018 at 11:14 AM #45588
As a self-identifying digital native, I can appreciate Jonas’ comment. On the other hand, might the numbing effects of digital media not make the classroom more appealing? In the classroom, there are live bodies, real words, raw ideas; there is at least the potential that the teacher can engage the student in a way that YouTube cannot.
- February 21, 2018 at 9:52 AM #45688
The classroom must indeed be a vital place for the student to learn, and the teacher is key. See John Mark Kuhns’ December 1 blog on this site entitled “Why I Teach” and his article “Why Teach in the Age of Google” on the FB site under “resources.”
“Numbed,” as Lucas appropriately used it, is a telling word. If students are numbed, they are numbed. A numbed part is basically dysfunctional so long as it is numbed. The person of the teacher is key. We must be able to connect with the hearts of our students through avenues that are not numbed. And a hyper-youtube approach, were it possible, would be counter productive.
We need to hear testimony from some (teacher) digital natives who are engaging with their students in ways that counter media-induced stupor.
- February 22, 2018 at 6:14 AM #45693
I’m no expert, but in my limited experience, 1.5 yrs in the classroom, I find that communication with parents is so important. The parents of one of my most apathetic students are some of the most supportive. Although his apathy is still present, it has diminished.
I find it tempting to believe that apathetic students have apathetic parents, but in this experience it is not the case. If you haven’t checked with them yet, give them the benefit of the doubt and do so.
You are not alone, everyday we are working to get students to grow. That often requires them to do what they wouldn’t do without the proding.
Blessing in the journey.
- February 22, 2018 at 6:22 AM #45695
P.S. In relation to the digital numbness. Yesterday, I had any enjoyable history class about the Industrial Revolution, in which I was able to present to them the explosion of technology which is ever increasing. They seemed to understand the times they are living in and at least acknowledge the addiction to our electronic. I know it is only a step, but for me, a digital native, it is helpful for me to know where we came from and that not all we are going to is good.
- February 23, 2018 at 7:26 AM #45708
It would be nice if we could give instant motivation and desire to the students who want to do the least amount possible, but it takes time and sometimes many tries to reach the students. Providing choices of activities, listening to the students and using their interests to build motivation can be helpful.
- February 24, 2018 at 5:53 PM #45815
My teaching career began (barely) in the days before the ubiquity of screen-gadgets in our communities, and I’ve had many students with very limited or nonexistent screen time. I can confirm that apathy was an issue in the olden days, too. Smartphones, etc. manipulate human nature rather than remaking it; if they have increased apathy (as they may well have), they’ve done so by exploiting preexisting weaknesses. Since we’re working with the same human nature we’ve had since the Fall, we can apply the same old principles in combating apathy, although we may need to adjust our implementation to changing circumstances.
I started writing a lot more in response to this thread, and realized that I had the makings of a blog post. So maybe watch for a blog post on this subject…
- March 16, 2018 at 12:46 PM #46418
- March 16, 2018 at 3:38 PM #46430
“It’s harder to be apathetic when you’re being empowered.” Excellent thoughts- Thank you, everyone.
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