Today, I felt frustrated. I was substitute teaching for a 9th grade English teacher. One of the assignments was to read a section of The Odyssey and then answer some corresponding questions on a worksheet.
To kill some time during one period, I read the section required to complete the worksheet and then answered the worksheet. Later on in the day I overheard a couple of students struggling with a question so I walked over and asked what number they were on. They told me and I asked them what they came up with for the answer. They told me and the answer was wrong. I let them know that that was not, in fact, correct, and then I asked them where they got their answers from because it clearly was not from the reading. The reply from one student: Quizlet. It has to be right.
My heart sank. Quizlet? Really?! The answers were right there in the book if they had only read. A journalism prof I once had told our class, “If your mother tells you she loves you, check it out.” You can’t just rely on information that’s fed to you. Always do the work yourself to find the answers.
I was so saddened by the fact that these kids were, what I call, “phoning it in,” both figuratively speaking and literally. They rely so heavily on their phones and the Internet to find information, but they don’t question it. I mean if I could read the text during part of a period and figure out the answers to the questions then why the hell couldn’t they do the same?
It was also upsetting that they didn’t understand the value of reading comprehension and taking the initiative to find the information themselves. So I got on my soapbox about phoning it in and relying on and putting your trust in others to do the work for you. All I got at the end was blank stares. So exhausting.
But I get it. They don’t have perspective just yet, and they assume they have it alllll figured out. But they don’t and what’s even more frustrating is that they’re not learning how to figure it out. Sigh.
I want them all to succeed, and feel happy, confident and successful. But honestly, I’m at a loss as to how to impart the importance of all of this. It feels heavy to me to not be able to break through to these kids. Maybe I’ll have reached one with my rant and perhaps s/he can then share and impart the value to one more—and so on.
Maybe time will tell, but in the moment, it feels like a nail-biter.