I wonder how many children have the potential to excel but are afraid…
While visiting one of Chicago’s public schools last week, I was reminded of my own high school experience. When in high school, I desperately wanted to be considered cool and not a nerd. Although now I would much rather be known for my mental aptitude, as a young person acceptance by my peers was much more important than focusing on my future. To avoid being considered the nerd, I would often not turn in homework assignments, not study for tests and exhibit an overall lack of concern for my education. Luckily, I reached a point of self evaluation that led me to correct this behavior.
However, there are many students in our school systems that are not as fortunate. One of the disadvantages to youth is the limitation of vision. The ability to see further into the future seems to be a benefit of wisdom and maturity because most young people cannot see past their present. As always, there are those exceptions to the rule, the young people who map out their future and stay the course because they understand the benefit of doing so. But what about those who don’t see the future so clearly?
While sitting in the classroom, I was sadden to see so many students being disruptive, not focusing on the lesson being taught and being rude to the teacher. It bothered me because these behaviors will not serve them well in the future. I could see a few of the students that wanted to engage in the lesson but their peer’s behavior was far more attractive than discussing the meaning of character. Ironic that that was the lesson and they were missing out on the message.
What do we do to make being smart cool? How do you influence young adults to understand that knowledge is power? How do we open their minds to see beyond today?
Many parents unwisely believe that as long as they are doing their part then everything will be ok. This is not always the case because, as I previously stated, peer-to-peer acceptance is a priority in the lives of many teens. This acceptance sometimes comes at the expense of their education. You know that your child has the ability to excel but for some reason they just aren’t getting it done. In many of our school systems, being smart is not cool.
It takes a village to raise a child but the village has to also pay attention to the environment of the all of the village’s children. Even if your child has the potential to excel, if their friends are the primary distraction, it can affect your child. So what’s the solution? Visit your child’s classroom periodically to identify the distracters. Spend time getting to know your child’s friends and their parents. Speak with the teachers to identify the sources of other distractions that could be affecting your child. Last but not least, talk to your child about their future and how their decisions today will impact their options in the future.