Friday, October 9, 2015

Not Asking for Help


Algebra 2. It was Friday. The students had just had a test. Since the teacher had to be out, they were kind of between units. So, it was a make-work day.

The teacher had left them an "IQ test". (Sample question: In this series, what comes next? 3, Z, 10, Y, X, 6, 13, W, ___. The choices: 9, 16, U, V. Please don't ask me what the answer is. She did not give me an answer key.) She also gave them some word puzzles:


So, nothing too terrible. But it freaked the kiddos out. Some students were so worried about how this would affect their grade. (I have a feeling she's not grading this, so it won't affect their grade at all. But I don't tell them this. Then they won't bother.)  

I circulated around the room, listening to them puzzle these things out. Offering a bit of guidance when I could figure out the answer and they were clearly stuck. But for the most part they were figuring things out just fine on their own.  

Then I ran across two boys who had pulled out a Connect Four game. Were they done? Nope. They had "given up". It was "too hard". It had "given them a headache". 

I have encountered this phenomenon before. Rather than ask for help from me or a classmate, rather than see if they can figure it out, they just put the thing away and give up. Seriously. 

I do not understand this. So, I tried to help the boys, but they weren't having it. They were done.  

Then in the next class and the class after that one I found a couple students who did the same thing. They didn't "get it", so they weren't going to do it. Some had never seen the word puzzles before, so they had no idea what they meant. But rather than ask me, they just stopped trying. (When I discovered this, I explained what they had to do. Some caught on and kept going. Some, not so much.) 

What happened to asking for help? They somehow managed to make it to algebra 2 (which requires the passing of algebra 1 and geometry, so it's no small feat) without doing anything that was too taxing on their brains? Really? 

Or maybe it was just Friday. I hope it was just Friday. Because if not, this is troubling.  

18 comments:

  1. What I find sad is that teachers are allowing them to pull out a game, or their phones, or a book instead of working on the assignment. My grandkids are always telling me about the things they do in class instead of the assignments. Sign! It's just not the "good old days" anymore. LOL!!

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    1. I don't think most teachers are "allowing" them to pull out a game. I think they're sneaking the game and the teachers are too busy with something else to catch on. Like when we used to pass notes in class.

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  2. Sadly people in general are like that these days. Not just kids :(

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  3. Its going to be hard for them when they get into the working world if they don't like to ask for help or direction.

    betty

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    1. That's what bothered me. Rather than asking me for help, they gave up.

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  4. Lay off the kids. School can be mentally exhausting and sometimes they need a break. And kids have been goofing off in school long before smartphones were invented. They just did it in different ways. Like adults who have goofed off at work since the beginning of time.

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    1. PS. Sorry, I don't want to come across as yelling here. I just know how tiring school can be, especially when you can't figure out what to do.

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  5. I absolutely detested math after 6th grade. I fear I would have been one of those who gave up but I would have probably hidden in the back, reading a book. An actual book. One day, I was caught by an English teacher, reading a book he had recommended - unfortunately it wasn't the book the class was studying that day, which did not interest me at all. I don't think he knew quite how to react and now, as an adult, I feel for him (thinking back on that moment). I wasn't normally a troublemaker, but, by high school, I did have my moments. (Sorry, will you still read my blog?) Alana ramblinwitham.blogspot.com

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    1. One day there was this kid who was clearly writing a short story in class. Math class. On the one hand, I wanted to encourage the writing (I am a writer, too, after all), but on the other hand, he had a math assignment to do. (Not having trouble with the math assignment. He just would have rather been writing.)

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  6. I hate when teachers stick substitues with stuff like that!

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    1. It makes it hard for me. Because I know it won't count towards their grade, so it's hard for me to make them do it. And idle students get into all sorts of mischief.

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  7. There were always slackers in the classroom when I was in school, when dinosaurs roamed the earth, but they never got away with it. Of course, we rarely saw a sub, so maybe that's it and then maybe not. I think more than anything it's just a change in behavior not only by the kids, but their parents, and society in general. Liberalism teaches people to NOT think or do stuff for themselves that giving up is the best thing to do when faced with challenge. One day, they will wished they had paid attention to their studies and learned these things now. I never was good in math and I wish I were.

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  8. Oh boy! These kids who just give up too easily I think, are coddled by their parents and will be one of many who will live at home while the parents keep enabling them. Why should they try anyway? They probably get what they want no matter what

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  9. That's sad that they gave up so easily.

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  10. I was never good at math and didn't even take algebra. It was way above my head at the time and I'm not a quitter. Instead I just took regular math. But I don't get not asking for help. I think a lot of this reflects on today's parents. If these kids could pass algebra I and geometry, what was so taxing about that quiz to make them give up?

    Sunni
    http://sunni-survivinglife.blogspot.com/

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    1. I know, right? I was floored that they would give up so easily.

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  11. My least favourite new phenomena is "i don't care, just give me zero", i don't know when not even giving something a go became an option!!!

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    1. I know! How do they think that not doing the assignment is an option? It is, of course, but that shouldn't be the default option. That should be the I've-exhausted-every-avenue-to-get-this-done-and-I've-run-out-of-time option.

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