The Importance of studying
A young black kid one day said to me when I was speaking with him, that learning Spanish is not for black people. It pained my heart to hear him saying that, for truth be told that speaks of his general attitude to studying. The chances of his learning much are slim. Attitudes like that come from his immediate community, probably family members and friends. Spanish is not given consideration.
But study and consistent work are vital to our students for it is their commitment to their work which will determine their academic performance and allow them to become the people they need to be. One of the most important things for any person is self discipline and in learning its value is unparalleled. Let us though look at another angle of this. Chinese, Japanese, Germans, and Mexicans come to America and they learn English, naturally because they have to. There are a number of Amerians working in China and some of them will learn Chinese. There are white and black American teachers who teach Spanish. Why would our black kid feel that way about learning Spanish. It is I feel lack of exposure to the world. He lives day after day with people who do not see much of the world apart from his own little part of a town or city. He is blissfully unaware of the effort which people invest in learning English, and of the many Americans who learn other languages. He may not even be aware of the many Americans who live in other countries like China or Japan, or the thousands of Americans studying and earning degrees in Germany.
It has not been pointed out to him the value or necessity to study as a way of making it through school. His teachers may try but they are bombarded by the message to ‘help’ students to pass tests and so students fail to see that they need to invest their efforts in their own learning. Indeed listening to that boy the idea of his own efforts does not seem to be up for consideration at all.
In some schools, study is emphasized and many of those students go on to occupy jobs with high pay. So then we do an injustice to students when we do not inform of the need to study.
Academic work is at times difficult, and some of it should be that way as it the effort and time which the young person puts into his work changes his brain and gives him understanding of important processes needed for his life. The student acquires dedication, diligence, and self discipline, doing work to a deadline, and leaving things which are not as important. If they choose to go into higher studies their skills will take them for.
Our poorer children need to hear from adults that they need to do their work and to put time into it. This is not just for Spanish but in general: mathematics, physics, biology, history English and others. These subjects offer many possibilities when seeking to get a job, in understanding of the world and in choosing a career later in life. Has he acquired a reading habit? I think not; his attitude is to do the minimum and that will not take him far. There are many students who take that attitude and they cannot be blamed as long we insist that it is the teacher’s business is to get them through tests.
Some students do not wish to study because they do not wish to seem to be different from their peers. Burying themselves in books would cause them to lose their standing with their groups. Indeed this may be the case with many students. But this means that their performance will not improve until they decide to do their work. Again it is the adults who need to provide a message for the young people to follow. In the end their entire lives will be determined by what they do now. They can, like I said, become engineers, doctors, accountants, neuroscientists, but way to those careers is through the work they do today. There is no lack of ability but there is a lack of application and unless this is addressed the performance of our students will not improve.
Much depends on parents and many of the poor parents are unable to navigate confidently the school process. It is essential that parents be taken into consideration if we are going to get poor students to put in the effort required to do well. There are many ways to get them into the school. One is the class play or school play, or division. Parents love preparing for their loved ones. In high school parents can be provided with classes in welding, computer science, art, History, and many others. All this will bring the parent into the school and rekindle or kindle the fire the parents need to get behind their own children and to foster their work attitude. Here we see the wisdom of keeping down the number of classes the teacher teaches so they can communicate with and see parents.
We, the adults, need to tell our students that they need to put their efforts into learning their work.