Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Maybe try half-A$$ing it.

I teach math for a living, often times to people who don't want to learn math.  That's sometimes the nature of teaching developmental credits at a technical college.  I get a lot of interesting experiences from the class though.  One thing I've seen from students more often than I would like is this.  They will be going along doing well enough, turning in homework, getting good enough test scores, and an overall decent grade.... then for reasons I don't know...  perhaps it's something disappointing academically (like a bad test), and then they just give up. 


They never come back to class, they don't turn in any homework.... and then the inevitable happens. They fail the class.

The thing was though, if they had just kept showing up, and trying even a little, they would have passed.  In a few of these cases, the students were at the top of their class, setting the curve on tests and appearing to have a strong grasp of the material.  In situations like these, they could literally coast the rest of the semester and still pass the class.

What's going on?  Perfectionism.

Yes, everyone wants the A, but as the cliche says Cs get degrees.  I've had several B/C potential students drop off the planet because they missed the A.

I had another student once who was certain she was going to fail the class all the time, even though this was not actually the case.  She was legitimately struggling in the course and I knew it was hard for her, but I knew she could do it.  Sometimes she would say "I don't want to try any more cause I'm just going to fail anyway".  I told her if she didn't try - she would surely fail, but if she tried she would she have a chance.   It seemed to me she was scared of making the effort... like trying and then failing was much worse than quitting.   (She passed the class btw)

Sometimes life throws us stuff we don't get or don't like, such as a math class we aren't into.  It isn't fun,  but if you quit you gain very little.  If you try and fail, you've at least gained an experience and a story.  So my advice, just try half-assing it.  You might not get the A, but at least you will have learned something.

I know not everything is guaranteed, I know you will take risks and lose,  I know that sometimes it's good to hedge your bets.  I know that someday you will reach your breaking point.  However, I also know that if you don't try - you will never know how far you can go and what you are capable of.  Find out what you are capable of, maybe you will have to half-ass it for a while... but you'll be glad you did!