“Okay,” he sighed. “So you don’t want to do division… Let’s chat for a second,” he said to the 15 year-old high school student. “Do you plan on getting a job soon?”
“No. Why would I?” she answered withdrawing and scrunching up her face in disgust.
“Don’t you want money to buy things you want that your parents won’t buy for you?” he nearly pleaded.
“My mom buys me what I want,” she snapped.
“Okay, well what about the expensive stuff. Like when I was in high school, if I wanted a $30 or $50 video game, I had to use my own money. What about that kind of stuff?” he calmly inquired.
“Umm…my mom just bought me two pair of Jordan’s for, what was it, um, like two hundred,” she stated defiantly.
He had nothing. He had no cards up his sleeve. He had no bargaining chips. There was nothing he could say that was true. She could literally never learn division and still live out her life. She literally would be able to eat, drink and be merry without knowing how to compare fractions, without knowing how to simplify improper fractions. Still, he felt that something was terribly wrong.
Where was her drive? Where was her motivation? Where was her self-worth? Where was her desire to improve herself?
Racking his brain, he could only conclude that she had never been given those things to lose. He couldn’t remember a specific day he was given them, but he knew he had them. Maybe he was just getting old.
He was hired to teach her. The problem became clearer every day. Kids like her didn’t need teachers. They’d had skillful, motivated, capable teachers their entire lives. They needed parents.
She was almost an adult, yet if it was cold enough for mittens, she couldn’t do a 12 x 12 times table. And she didn’t care.