We speak with a lot of parents about some of the biggest challenges preventing their kids from genuinely learning – not just going through the motions of getting the work done – and earning high grades as a result.
We often focus on trying to help them DO things differently – get more engaged/organized/motivated, put more effort forth, pay more attention, etc.
And these are all valid. But when nothing changes, when the status quo of boredom/complacency/selectively choosing what to work on persists, it’s our job to help them SEE things differently.
There are two shifts in particular that pave the way to changed behaviour (positively and sustainably).
#1. Teaching happens at school. Learning happens at home.
Regardless of how much teachers care about the children in their class, they cannot cater to the specific needs and preferences of YOUR child. Nor are they responsible for doing so – their job is to deliver content in ways that move as many students as possible from one grade to the next. W
hen students really get this, it’s empowering. They can’t control what they’re being taught in the classroom, but they have total control and ownership over what they learn at home.
#2. School isn’t about the school work. It’s about them.
All of the school work they’ll ever do – math worksheets, English essays, science projects, presentations – amount to external, temporary products that, for the most part, no one will really remember or care about.
The reason we care about school work is because every assignment, every academic task, presents a choice about the qualities and attributes they want to associate with.
With every piece of school work comes the chance to decide what kind of thinker and doer they want to be, to deliberately build the skills they want or deliberately ignore the skills they don’t want (the consequences of which generally turn into motivation for skill-building anyway).
It’s not about being ready to regurgitate information for a test, struggle miserably through an essay or flat out decide that a certain class isn’t worth their time because they don’t like it or find it irrelevant. It’s not about the school work itself. It’s about them, understanding that school work is a means for shaping their brain and deciding how they want to think and feel about learning and work.
In a nutshell: when kids SEE school for what it really is (and not for the competitive, struggle-laden source of stress it has become), they’re way more likely to do their very best.
These two shifts alone have resulted in HUGE breakthroughs for all sorts of learners, at different ages and in different curricula. I’m talking firestorms of motivation, newfound pride in school work, whole letter (sometimes two) grade jumps and more.
I’ll leave you with a Wayne Dwyer gem:
“When we change the way we look at things, the things we look at change.”
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