Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Unconventional Motivation

I saw this story about a parent who basically humiliated her child into doing better in school.  I think before I started teaching, I would have been firmly against this sort of tactic.  However, that was before I realized that doing well in school or not could literally be a matter of life or death in the future - or at least a matter of a life of freedom or behind bars.  If I hadn't done well in school, I probably would have gone to a community college instead of a four-year college.  The culture of my family and friends was such that I would have made those choices.  Many of the kids I have taught have never been around that culture, and dropping out of high school or not doing well would mean they didn't have other options - at least, not other legal options.  That's obviously a generalization, but I really can't blame this mother for feeling desperate.

The blogger says: "I'm guessing standing on the corner for four hours with a sign soliciting your embarrassment at 15-years-old, is much better than the embarrassment of picking up trash in public while wearing prison gear when you're older."

Many of the commenters wonder if the reaction would have been the same if the family were white.  It's also interesting to think about considering the "Tiger Mom" who's been in the news lately with what she calls Chinese Mothering.  

I heard one mother express this kind of frustration to a child once. The kid's grandmother (father's mother) was the matriarch of a large crack house and the kid was fooling around in school and in danger of not passing.  His mother said to him, very seriously, "If I see you going down that path, I will kill you myself rather than see you go into that kind of hell." 

The kid shaped up.

One year ago: First day of school

Three years ago: Teacher Salaries
                          The Subbing Conspiracy

Four years ago: Observations and Being Nice
                        Things I Won't Miss About School

Five years ago: A Kids' Eye View of the Neighborhood
                        I've Made It!

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