The Great Slump
The teacher greets them at the classroom door, “Put your homework on the left side of your desk, and get started on your “Do Now.”
Fourteen-year- old Johnny comes in and sits down. He has no homework to put on the left side of his desk, so he plays with the strap on his bookbag while his teacher walks up and down the rows.
She stands above him, and even though he pretends not to know, he can hear the scratch of her damn pen on her damn clipboard. So much for fresh starts, positive climate, and “I believe in you.”
It’s only 8:03, first period, first failure. Only six to go before he gets the hell out of here, unless he leaves after lunch.
The teacher begins the lesson with a powerful question designed to get them all talking and arguing. Johnny has much to say, but why bother? He drops his head and shoulders, leans back in his chair, and thrusts his legs in front of him. His teacher notes his body language. It’s the familiar slump and sprawl of defeat— with its jagged edge of defiance.
She asks another question of the class, waits a while like good teachers do, and then calls on people– some of them with hands raised, some not. Clearly her question has stoked their brain fires. Then she says, “Johnny, what do you think?
She tries it again. “Johnny?”
“Hate this school!” He pushes himself out of his chair, grabs his backpack, and slams out the classroom door. He knows he will get in trouble, a phone call, a detention, or an in-house suspension — but he doesn’t care.
Johnny knows in two years he will be sixteen, and then he will walk out the school door, and he will never have to come back.
Johnny is one of many kids who don’t do homework. Many of these kids, if they could start class positively, could thrive instead of fail. In this blog, in future posts, I will describe some of these kids, both high school kids like Johnny and elementary kids who may grow up to be Johnnies.
On Facebook I came upon a viral post by a Mom, Bunmi Laditan. She writes a letter to her ten-year-old-daughter’s school declaring her home to be a “Homework- Free- Zone.” I shared the post on Facebook and wrote a quick comment. I’m sure that Bunmi Laditan and I are part of a growing movement to change the way homework is being done. Here’s the link to her post. http://twentytwowords.com/moms-viral-post-declares-her-house-a-homework-free-zone/