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Whose Homework Is It Anyway? PROMOTING ACADEMIC SELF-RELIANCE . Presentation By: Dr. Brad Sachs, Ph.D www.bradsachs.com HCDrugFree Thursday, October 16, 2008. QUESTION #1. What is the best way to motivate an adolescent to become more academically focused?. QUESTION #2.

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whose homework is it anyway promoting academic self reliance

Whose Homework Is It Anyway?PROMOTING ACADEMICSELF-RELIANCE

Presentation By:

Dr. Brad Sachs, Ph.D

www.bradsachs.com

HCDrugFree

Thursday, October 16, 2008

question 1
QUESTION #1

What is the best way to motivate an adolescent to become more academically focused?

question 2
QUESTION #2

What are the three primary functions of the human brain?

question 3
Question #3

Which comes first, success or motivation?

question 4
QUESTION #4

What is the square root of 27?

signs of inadequate academic self reliance
SIGNS OF INADEQUATE ACADEMIC SELF-RELIANCE
  • Still requires one-on-one attention, restless and unproductive when asked to work on his/her own
  • Displays difficulty beginning and/or completing academic tasks
  • Withdraws attention and focus after inviting parents to instruct, help or intervene
signs cont
Signs (cont.)…
  • Displays frequent temper outbursts, irritability, or abrupt mood shifts when doing homework or school-related activity
  • Makes incessant and unrealistic demands on adults/parents (but is never truly satisfied)
  • Difficulty organizing school materials at home
  • Completes homework, but doesn’t turn it in
signs cont8
Signs (cont.)…
  • Likely to interpret suggestions, advice, and feedback as criticism or indictment
  • Appears to adopt an apathetic, “I don’t care” attitude
  • Lacks the capacity to entertain him/herself in general (without electronics)
signs cont9
Signs (cont.)….
  • Doesn’t use teachers/tutors well, seeing them as adversaries not allies (“dumb”, boring”,

“unfair” , “mean”)

  • Doesn’t ask for help, or does so in ineffective ways, such as by asking for too much, asking too often, and/or asking at bad times
  • Sabotages him/herself by not studying, or by studying ineffectively
  • Focuses on what parents/others have not done, rather than what s/he has not done—assigns blame to others for academic problems
signs cont10
Signs (cont.)…
  • Attributes success to “luck” (“The teacher asked the stuff I already knew”) or “innate ability” (“I’m just good at math”) rather than his/her own efforts (“I worked hard and earned this high grade.”)
  • Focuses on isolated, sporadic academic acts, rather than the cumulative sum of actions or inactions
  • Insists on being rescued from school-related consequences and difficulties
  • Sees perfection and failure as the only two alternatives
types of academic dependence
Types of Academic Dependence
  • Active Avoidance
  • Passive Avoidance
  • Clingy Avoidance
  • Perfectionistic Avoidance
additional questions to consider
Additional Questions to Consider
  • Do these difficulties display themselves in non-academic arenas, as well (with peers, in group or extra-curricular activities, etc.)?
  • Have these difficulties displayed themselves gradually or suddenly?
  • Do these difficulties display themselves consistently or intermittently?
  • What does the child have to say about these difficulties when you ask him/her about them?
the homework mission
THE HOMEWORK MISSION
  • The value of homework lies in providing students with an opportunity to learn how to become organized, efficient, self-reliant and self-assured
  • Homework time begins as a shared journey on the part of parent and student but needs to ultimately end with the healthy differentiation of the child
  • Parental over-involvement of any sort cripples the student’s self-reliance and handicaps the development of his/her love of learning
the 3 stages of parental support
The 3 Stages of Parental Support
  • Structuring(primary school)
  • Weaning(middle school)
  • Entrusting (high school)
the homework quicksand of the overly dependent student
The Homework Quicksand of theOverly Dependent Student

“I am not only unable to help myself, I am also unworthy of being effectively helped by anyone else…”

  • Student demands help ineffectively or inappropriately, or doesn’t request help at all
  • Parent tries to help anyway
  • Student rejects/refuses help that is offered
  • Parent becomesfrustrated and “helps” over-critically or simply abandons helping
  • Student becomes convinced that s/he is unworthy
when a student asks for help
When a Student Asks for Help…

Students are often not asking for help with homework when they ask for help…they are usually asking for relief from the painful feelings that get stirred up by their homework (fear, inadequacy, insufficiency, ignorance, etc.)

The focus needs to be on appropriate emotional support,notacademic performance

how you get someone out of quicksand

HOW YOU GET SOMEONE OUT OF QUICKSAND…

Stand to the Side

And Offer a Stick

maladaptive parental responses to academic dependence
Maladaptive Parental Responses toAcademic Dependence
  • Trying harder to make the child try harder
  • Over-Monitoring academic behavior (in school and at home) and intruding on school life
  • Incessant Rewards, which generally create problems…

--diminish true motivation

--loss of value of reward over time

--complicated when there are more self- reliant siblings

--need for weaning

--reinforces negative self-image

maladaptive responses cont
Maladaptive Responses (cont)…
  • Punishment
  • Over-Diagnosing/Labeling (Excusing)
  • Over-collaboration
  • Fraudulent disengagement (on-line, etc.)
  • Blaming of Teacher/School
  • Blaming of Child
  • Blaming of Self
  • Angry withdrawal
the self reliance dilemma
The Self-Reliance Dilemma

Every teen needs to create an “I” and a “We”, establishing loyalty to him/herself while maintaining loyalty to his/her parents/family.

Teens will usually err in one direction or another in their on-going effort to establish a healthy balance, and sometimes solve the self-reliance problem in problematic ways

the self reliance dilemma cont
The Self-Reliance Dilemma (cont.)…

Parents need to be able to promote the teen’s autonomy while still maintaining appropriate connection and support

Parents will err in one direction or another in their on-going effort to establish a healthy balance, and solve the self-reliance problem in problematic ways

problem solving problems
Problem-Solving Problems
  • It’s important for me to be seen as helpless and dependent so that not too much is expected of me
  • I cannot do exactly what is being asked of me academically because I won’t feel or appear like I’m my own person
  • I will no longer recognize myself if I become too self-reliant, nor will others
problem solving problems cont
Problem-Solving Problems (cont.)...

If I can’t solve a problem on my own, it doesn’t count

My parents can make me do my homework, but they can’t make me turn it in

Making mistakes means I have failed

I’ll feel humiliated if I decide to change my ways, and my parents tell me, “I told you so.”

Doing things differently means admitting that the my parents were right and I was wrong

solving problems cont
Solving Problems (cont.)…
  • If I am no different than my scholarly brother/sister, I’ll become invisible and remain forever in his/her shadow
  • If I become too successful, my parents will think that they’re not necessary, and become depressed, or pull away from me
  • I’ll feel guilty if I surpass one of my siblings
  • I’m still too angry at my parents for “what happened” to make them proud of me and give them a chance to brag
  • And…
problem solving problems25
Problem-Solving Problems
  • It is better for me to fail to start than to start and fail
  • “If I try and don’t succeed, everyone will know I’m dumb instead of believing that I might be smart”
solutions
Solutions…

The solution to a lack of academic self-reliance begins with parents focusing on changing their own behavior, rather than the behavior of the teen…

Only then will the teen develop faith and belief in his/her own ability, and be secure enough to solicit and receive help and support when they are truly necessary

conservation of responsibility
CONSERVATION OF RESPONSIBILITY

There is a finite amount of responsibility for academic matters in any parent-teen relationships…

The more responsible for these matters the parent is, the less the teen will be

The less responsible for these matters the parent is, the more the teen will be (although not necessarily right away)

strategies
Strategies
  • Heightened awareness of your own school-related experiences, memories and emotions
  • Matching your nurture to the teen’s nature
  • Heightened awareness of your own expectations
  • Predictability of routine
  • Jointly mapping out a schedule and evaluating its efficacy over time
strategies cont
STRATEGIES (cont.)….
  • Creation of “electronic-free” zones/times for everyone in the family
  • Maintaining appropriate distance/space, while teaching how/when to “refuel”
  • Teaching Time-out/Time-Away Strategies
  • Meaningful incentives
strategies cont31
Strategies (cont.)…
  • Distinguish between assistance and evaluation (the teacher, not the parent, is the final judge)
  • Invite, rather than demand, that the student make modifications
  • Support, and collaborate effectively with, school staff
  • Speak to the advantage of auxiliary supports (tutors, etc.) without imposing them
strategies cont32
Strategies (cont.)…
  • Envision/position yourself as “consultant” not “subcontractor”
  • Allow your teen to dig a hole, and then dig his/her way out of the hole—have more faith in his/her ability than s/he has in him/herself
  • Note where non-academic self-reliance shows up, and find ways to apply it to academics
strategies cont33
Strategies (cont.)…
  • School conferences that include the teen
  • Emphasizing Mastery over Performance

(to TRANSFORM not to PERFORM)

  • Emphasizing Process over Product
  • Emphasizing Parental Responsiveness over Responsibility
  • Emphasizing learning for learning’s sake
strategies cont34
Strategies (cont.)…
  • Sensitivity to Advantages and Disadvantages of Diagnostic Labels
  • Awareness of Internalized Stereotypes (gender, racial, etc.)
  • Awareness of Gender Differences
sex differences in brain function
Sex Differences in Brain Function

Brain areas that process negative emotions are closely associated with language areas in girls

In boys, these areas are localized primarily in the amygdala (which has scant connections with language, and is focused more on action)…

sex differences in brain function36
Sex Differences in Brain Function

So it becomes…

Easier for girls to answer the question:

“How would you feel if you were x?”

Easier for boys to answer the question:

“What would you do if you were x?”

strategies cont37
Strategies (cont.)

Asking Yourself…

  • “Will this information matter to him/her ten years from now?”
  • “Is s/he more likely to remember the knowledge resulting from completing this assignment, or the fight we had about completing it?”
strategies cont38
STRATEGIES (cont.)…

DEFINING MULTIPLE PATHS OF POTENTIAL DEPARTURE

can t versus won t
Can’t Versus Won’t

When there are legitimate, documented learning challenges, attentional deficits, or any other form of neuropsychological unevenness…

can t versus won t40
Can’t Versus Won’t

When there are legitimate, documented learning challenges, attentional deficits, or any other form of neuropsychological unevenness…

The issue is not that students can’t do the work, but that it’s harder to do the work than the student would like it to be

can t versus won t41
Can’t Versus Won’t

When there are legitimate, documented learning challenges, attentional deficits, or any other form of neuropsychological unevenness…

There are also the unavoidable feelings of anger at the injustice of watching other students no smarter than him/herself having an easier time succeeding…

communicating to promote academic self reliance
Communicating to PromoteAcademic Self-Reliance
  • Listening
  • Identifying feelings (yours and theirs)
  • Empathy/Understanding
  • Attracting the Teen’s Curiosity regarding his/her goals and goal-directed behavior (next slide)
attracting the teen s curiosity
Attracting the Teen’s Curiosity
  • What do you tell yourself when it’s time to begin a homework assignment that you are dreading?
  • What impact does it have when you say this to yourself?
  • What else might you try saying to yourself that might be more effective?
attracting the teen s curiosity44
Attracting the Teen’s Curiosity

You seem to have been pretty focused on your work this evening…

  • Was that your experience as well?
  • If so, how did you create that experience?
  • What was it like?
  • If not, what’s it like to hear that it looked different from the outside?
attracting the teen s curiosity45
Attracting the Teen’s Curiosity

You seem to have a tendency to procrastinate…

  • When did you first notice this about yourself?
  • Do you always procrastinate, or only under certain conditions?
  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of procrastinating?
  • Do you imagine you always will?
self reliance promoting communication cont
SELF-RELIANCE PROMOTING COMMUNICATION (cont.)…
  • Careful Observation
  • Conveying affection, pride and support
  • Emphasizing effort
  • Using Praise like Penicillin

All evaluation is judgmental

slide47

Conveying Realistic Optimism/Hope

  • Focusing on his/her goals, not yours (“We know you want to be successful” vs. “We want you to be successful.”)
try to avoid
Try to Avoid…
  • Absolutes (“You’re never going to get this, are you?”)
  • “Face value” interpretations (“I don’t care”, “I’m bored”, “I don’t care what the teacher thinks”, etc.) and negating/suppressing strong feelings
  • Sermons and lectures (less is more)
  • Impossible Questions (“Do you want to fail?”, “What’s wrong with you?”)
  • Catastrophizing
try to avoid cont
Try to Avoid (cont.)…
  • Closed Questions

“Did you learn anything in school today?”

versus

“What kinds of things are you working on in Social Studies?”

the goal setting dialogue
The Goal-Setting Dialogue
  • What are your goals for this next marking period?
  • What will you need to do differently, or more or less of, to reach these goals?
  • At what average effort level (1-10) were you operating at this past marking period?
  • At what average effort level (1-10) will you need to operate at to reach these goals that you have established?
the goal setting dialogue cont
The Goal-Setting Dialogue (cont.)…
  • What role do you think I/we (as parents) ought to be playing in support of your reaching those goals?
  • What support from others (besides us) might be helpful (peers, teacher, tutor, etc.)?
  • How will you feel about yourself if you don’t reach those goals?
  • How will you feel about yourself if you do reach those goals?
the goal setting dialogue52
The Goal-Setting Dialogue…
  • What will you think you ought to do differently should you not reach your goals?
  • What will you think we ought to do differently should you not reach your goals?
  • What are the advantages of reaching your goals?
  • What are the disadvantages of reaching your goals?
question 153
QUESTION #1

What is the best way to motivate an adolescent to become more academically focused?

answer 1
ANSWER #1

It is impossible to motivate anyone to do anything…motivation is an internally-driven phenomenon not an externally-driven one…

All you can do is create a climate that raises the odds that an adolescent will find reasons to motivate him/herself to achieve a goal

question 255
QUESTION #2

What are the three primary functions of the human brain?

answer 2
ANSWER #2

NOT…

  • Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic…
answer 257
ANSWER #2
  • Survival
  • Reproduction
  • Caring of dependents
question 358
Question #3

Which comes first, success or motivation?

answer 3
ANSWER #3

Success always precedes motivation

question 460
QUESTION #4

What is the square root of 27?

answer 4
ANSWER #4

For most of us, it doesn’t really matter…

answer 462
ANSWER #4

For most of us, it doesn’t really matter…

…because imagination is more important than knowledge (Einstein)

what do high school students want to learn
What Do High School Students Want to Learn?
  • More about people of all cultures
  • Social success skills
  • Manners
  • How to fix things
  • How to find a job
  • How to protect yourself
  • How to care for one another