Tuesday, April 12, 2011

You Can Lead a Horse to Water...But Then What?

Some days I would like nothing more than to throw my hands in the air and shout I give up!!!  Raising a baby is difficult, time consuming and trying, but compared to raising teenagers, it's a walk in the park.  How do you instill motivation in someone that does not want to be motivated?  Punishment, rewards, pleading, begging, bribing, nothing seems to work.  I know, I know, you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink.  But then what?  You just stand there watching the damn horse dehydrate?  What if the horse doesn't drink, what if it doesn't choose to drink?  Do you just let it die and say, I guess it was too stupid?  I think not.

It would be so much easier to just let the boys worry about their school work and the repercussions it will have on their futures.  I suppose they would eventually learn that education is indeed important, much like water to the stubborn horse, but I would prefer they realized that before it's too late.  Last night I thought we had gotten through to the youngest one, finally, when he said that he realized his homework is helping him make sense of things he has been learning in school.  Yes, we said, that is the point of homework.  Not to torture you, but to help you grasp the lessons you've been learning.  Sadly though, I think the realization is still not enough.

It saddens me to think about how both these boys see school as torture, homework being the primary device of inflicting such torment.  I loved school.  I still love it.  And I can't remember ever setting a poor example for them when it comes to school.  We always valued school work, praised the good grades and hard work, and encouraged them to try harder when things weren't so good.  But not once do I recall saying, it doesn't matter, we don't care, or don't bother with that.  So where oh where did this mindset come from that school doesn't matter, that ignoring the assignments you don't like is acceptable?  How did this happen?  How did this happen on my watch?

I could give up on them, very easily.  They aren't my children, they are my stepsons.  I've seen it done by people I thought knew better.  I could just stop caring, stop asking, stop helping.  But I find that I just don't have it in me to give up on them.  How could I take pride in their futures if I gave up on them when things got difficult?  And have no doubt, they both have bright futures ahead of them, ones that I know I will be proud of.  So I will patiently remain, scooping handfuls of water into that damn horse's mouth so it doesn't die of thirst, waiting for the day it finally lifts its head and decides to drink.


  1. Good Job. A vetern teacher adds to this quote and says "you can hold its head under water and it STILL won't drink." Ahh...I'm glad that its not just the teachers...sorry- I wish I had an answer :) Next year I'm thinking about never checking homework and when all my students fail, I'll ask them if they are practicing...probably not the best idea, huh?

  2. I think you would have a lot of failing students, but I imagine they would be very skilled at video games and texting...which will obviously get them very far in life...ugggghhhhh :)

  3. You are rare in that you loved school. It's not built into us given the current distractions in our world.

    Perhaps, a volunteer trip to serve food/something at a homeless shelter would open his eyes to what life is like at the extreme level. Suggest that homework, and with that better grades, allows us to stay away from this.

    Keep at it.