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LostinKY 03-14-2019 05:08 AM

Student Apathy
Hi, folks. I've searched the literature, I've asked many people, and I've yet to find a satisfactory answer to the following question: How do you deal with students who are completely apathetic in your classroom?

To be clear, I'm not talking about students with ADD/ADHD, or learning/processing differences. I don't mean students who have difficult home situations, or who struggle with depression. I'm talking here about students who have zero motivation to do anything that is school related.

For context, I teach at an all-boys high school. I teach grades 10-12. At each grade level, I have a few students who simply cannot be motivated to take anything seriously if it's school-related. In my MAT program a few years ago, I was taught to create units and assessments that were "engaging," that allowed students to engage with the material in ways that were familiar to them. I've experimented with a lot of different strategies along those lines: my students create videos, write short stories, complete presentations/written assignments connecting literature they read to current events, complete self-directed research projects over topics of their own choosing.

The problem that I run into is that a percentage of my students want no part in anything they're asked to do in class. No matter how "relevant" or "engaging" the task is that they're asked to do, the mere fact that it's school-related seems to make them averse to it. This is even the case in a pop culture elective I've piloted this year, in which students are invited to examine popular music, television, fashion, sports, movies, etc. Even getting them to actively discuss sports and movies can be like pulling teeth some days! There are always several students who'd rather have side conversations about anything else, try to sleep, or just sit there doing literally nothing.

So to wrap up (sorry for being long-winded), do other folks have this experience? Reading around the education world, the answer seems to be that you just need to integrate technology and incorporate some things that are already high-interest to students (pop music, current movies/t.v., video games, etc.). However, I find that while these strategies do work for many students and are certainly better than old-school drill and skill activities, there are always those who will refuse to participate on principle. I find myself frustrated that education literature doesn't seem to address this issue.

So, does anyone here deal with this as well? If so, how do YOU combat student apathy in the classroom?

Guest 5512 03-21-2019 05:36 PM

Is it because todayís youth expect to be entertained? I canít compete with YouTube.

Or is it because our culture advances the notion that happiness is an entitlement?

I have no insight to offer, but Iím also very curious about this phenomenon. I hope others will weigh in.

Lakeside 03-22-2019 02:34 AM


Is it because todayís youth expect to be entertained? I canít compete with YouTube.
I think you've hit the nail on the head. There are just so many distractions today.

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