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Ask an Expert: When a student just doesn't care

Educator Amy Turino addresses a mother’s concern that her ninth-grade son just isn’t trying very hard to get good grades.

Q. My son is mainly a ‘B’ student and seems to be fine with that even though he puts in very little effort to achieve those ‘B’s. He is in the mindset that B grades are good even though he is quite capable of A work with a little effort. How do I get him to work up to his full potential?

A. This is all an issue of mindset. If your son finds no value or passion in the work that is being asked of him then he is going to not be motivated to apply more effort. The root of the problem needs to be considered: do you want your son to earn A’s or do you just
want to ignite his potential and passion? If you just want the grade, as a freshman in high school the battle probably isn’t worth your time. If you want to ignite his potential and passion then there are possibilities.

  • Have at least one weekly time in the family schedule to sit down and talk about aspirations. As adults we sometimes get lost in the day-to-day commitments we have that we forget to model or show our kids that aspirations can be lifelong and there is a process to setting goals and making plans for achieving those goals.
  • Follow up on these conversations and make sure time and energy is invested in supporting your son in something that he is passionate about. If possible join him in the endeavor. This will allow you to see connections and help point those out to your son that might show how energy in school is related to energy in this activity, etc.
  • Spend time working on your own aspiration that you talk about at the weekly meeting, just be a model of how you are working toward your goal and share your progress. This in and of itself can sometimes be invaluable.

If you are unsure get inspired by Sir Ken Robinson:

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