Story & Video – Joseph Boyle
Recently in the course of my job, I interviewed a 15-year-old kid. I asked him how he was doing in school. He said, “Fine.” I had spoken to his school counselor, so I knew better. I asked a follow-up question. “Are you getting straight A’s?” His head hung down as he prepared to tell me truthfully how he was really doing. “No, I am getting straight F’s”.
I told him it was obvious to me that he had way more potential then that. He agreed. School was just not important to him right now, because of other issues in his life. He admitted that he had lost his way.
If we move the clock forward, this kid and others like him – if they are unable to focus on their main job, which is that of being a student – will be lost in adult life.
Have you ever noticed those adults standing on street corners dancing around with their music buds jammed in their ears while waiving a $5 pizza or oil change sign?
Working 8 hours a day at minimum wage as a gyrating human sign in all kinds of weather has to be one of the most boring jobs a guy or gal could have.
Well at least they are working and making some money. Guess what? It is possible even these jobs are going to disappear as foreign made robots replace them. Check out my video, if you think I am kidding.
Education is a powerful answer. I admitted to the 15 year old that I did not really like secondary school, but realized that getting a high school diploma was an important first step in life. I only wish I had put more intensity behind getting better grades to go along with my diploma. While I have no desire to blame others, I did not have a “homework mentor”.
Most kids, who are having trouble, do not understand the rhythm of school. Interspersed throughout the school year are frequent short vacations and a long summer vacation.
Attend school for a few days; do some homework, do your best and bingo you break out of school for a few days for things like Teacher Conference Day, President’s Day or winter break. Return to school and begin the cycle over again. School is a series of predictable cycles. Most students could keep up a strong effort for one short cycle after another. But many students, who are not succeeding at their full potential, see school as a never-ending dismal eternity.
When a student successfully completes all the cycles, they walk down the graduation aisle.
Going to school is a kid’s job. Getting a good education is like sharpening your ax before chopping wood. With a sharp ax, you can seek higher education, either college or trade school, and then go forth well equipped to make your own way in the world.
Kids, if you are reading this, think about doing what you can to avoid being replaced by a robot.
Adults, if you are reading this, look around and identify any kids who might benefit by having an adult mentor to help them along. Support their homework efforts. I am not talking about barking at them by telling them to get upstairs and do their homework. Sit down with them and their homework. Work with them until you know they can manage independently without you.
During a seminar I attended with about 300 adults, we were asked to think about the one person in our life who was an important mentor. I could not think of one mentor in my life. On the contrary, I had benefitted from numerous mentors in my family, neighborhood, school, part time job and college that were absolutely pivotal to my development, goal setting and success in life. I did not have one mentor. I had a significant list of mentors. What I did not have early on was a homework mentor.
There were others in the audience who, like me, could not think of one mentor in their life. The reason for their failure to meet the speaker’s challenge is what shocked me. Unlike me, they had absolutely no mentors in their life – ever. Not one important teacher, family member, a boss at a part-time job or neighbor; no one.
My life experience taught me that everyone has a mentor; at least one. I just thought that was the way life was. For decades I held the mistaken believe that when you are a kid, you have a mentor. I learned that day at the seminar, late in life, that my assumption about mentors was wrong.
In Lakewood and around the country we have an organization called Communities in Schools. Check out their volunteer mentor opportunities. CIS allows ordinary citizens to make a difference in a young person’s life.
Help if you can. Our future depends on us mentoring our kids. The robots are coming.