The Blame Game: Student Apathy

The four years that a student spends in high school can have the ability to define the rest of their life. If they spend those four years floating through without a care in the world, the repercussions will be numerous. This lack of care is a serious problem, an epidemic that is spreading through our school. More students are becoming apathetic towards their grades, and once they start failing, they begin pointing fingers. Who really is to blame?

Is it the freshman that can’t handle the transition to high school? According to Mrs. Caridi, BHS Guidance Counselor, “If you can’t [transition] right away freshman year, there is definitely going to be a greater time where they’re going to be stuck in that rut and you’re not going to be able to get out of it.” As a freshman, it’s shocking entering high school. All of a sudden students want to participate in sports, the musical, and seven different clubs which can make it hard to balance. Plus, there’s simply more homework and a stricter late policy, so the expectation is completely different at this level. “Even though they’re aware that there’s going to be a change it can just be very difficult to keep up with it,” says Ms. Heller, a freshman English teacher.

Is it the senior that has just given up? Once a student reaches senior year they feel that they have put in their obligated time and are ready to give up. Students tend to do the bare minimum in order to pass, because most already have concrete plans for after graduation. Colleges focus primarily on junior year, so many seniors feel that it doesn’t matter once they’ve submitted their applications. Ms. Nero, a senior English teacher, explains, “It’s the bare minimum to make sure they get the grade, which can be frustrating for sure, yet understandable. I remember being a senior too.” By senior year, students are just trying to graduate. Most don’t care what their grades are, as long as they get to walk across the stage in June.

Is it the students’ parents? According to Ms. Heller, “If they don’t have strong influences that encourage them to learn and complete their work, the immediacy of getting that done may not be articulated to them.” Students are greatly influenced by their parents, so it’s tough for them to really care if their parents are detached. If their parents are more involved, it indicates to students that school is important. Unfortunately, few parents keep in constant contact with teachers. “I see very little parent involvement, I don’t want to make that generalization, but for the most part, I’d say I have a handful of parents that I keep in contact with throughout the year,” states Ms. Nero. She went on to say that last year, she talked to about ten parents and was teaching 90 students. This lack of involvement indicates to teens that school doesn’t matter as much. Although many student don’t need the guidance from their parents to succeed, for many not having someone motivating them at home can result in a string of missing homework and assignments, simply because the student doesn’t feel like completing them and nobody pushes them to.

Is it the teacher? If students are not engaged in class and do not find the class interesting, they are more likely to stop caring. Also, some students only learn specific ways. If the teaching style of their teacher is incompatible with their needs, they will throw in the towel. Students need a personal relationship with their teacher as well, and if they do not form that bond then they are more likely to be apathetic. “Who doesn’t want people to believe in them? Of course, that’s a huge driving factor for many people” Caridi explains. A student needs to form a bond with their teacher so they know that their teacher cares about them and believes in them. If they can’t connect with their teacher, then it’s hard for a student to succeed in the class.

Ultimately, it’s the student. Caridi states, “Everybody has their faults, and it’s always hard to admit or say that you’re weak in something. But a lot of times those faults, turn into a blame game. They’re not willing to recognize their own weaknesses and then they point the finger at others.” Students will blame their teachers, their parents, the expectations of the class, and even Santa Claus because they refuse to find the faults in their own actions. According to Ms. Nero, some students find their failing grades, “funny and laughable”. She goes on to say, “Some kids definitely notice it, but don’t really care to change the course of action.” Even though a class may be hard, or a teacher may be tough, the responsibility falls on the student. In the end, it is the lack of work ethic in students that is to blame. This is unfortunate because good grades and a strong work ethic are important for their future and for their life after high school,” according to Ms. Heller. In order to be successful in the real world, young students must be self-motivated and give all of their effort to a task.

To combat apathy, students should find a reason to get out of bed in the morning and be excited for school whether it’s a teacher, a class, a project, a friend, or an after school activity. Also, every student should try to set a goal like being on the high honor roll or going to the college of their dreams. Focusing on this will motivate the student to perform in school. Every student is capable of working hard and giving school work all of their effort. Like Ms. Caridi always says, “Everybody is filled with greatness, you just have to let it grow.”

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