Had to post this tweet from the Shut Down Learner. She’s now a freshman in college….
It was always her problem that she was struggling. Hmmmm. Maybe not so much?
I have never posted just about the Shut-Down Learner concept by Dr. Richard Selznick. I’ve referred to it, but need a more thorough post.
I ran across Dr Selznick’s concept of the Shut-Down Learner about a year ago. It completely fits.
From his article, “When Learners Shut Down,” these are characteristics of a shut-down learner (before shutting down):
We’ve got three of the four.
Watch this video for an overview.
Screenshot of his PowerPoint that is it in a nutshell.
Short piece from Edutopia today about Strategies for Reaching Apathetic Students.
This could be my daughter. I’m sure she looked like the stereotypical apathetic student. I know she was on her phone quite a bit. She didn’t take notes. She hated group work. She rarely did homework in the last two years of high school. She failed many tests. She hated writing papers. She was, I am sure, quite sassy in class. (She did, however, actively participate in class discussions. I regularly heard from teachers about how well she did in discussions, about how she had very astute observations and offered critical analysis.)
While her behavior may indicate that she didn’t care about school or anything, I can guarantee you that she did care. She cared so deeply that her struggles and difficulty meeting everyone’s expectations – difficulties that are not her fault, and are not because she’s not intelligent or talented – triggered serious anxiety and depression. Honestly, the “disabilities” are only disabilities in an academic setting like her high school. Look at the things she didn’t do: homework, tests, writing. Hmmmmm — does that suggest a text based disability? YES! And, as she is a strong introvert, group work in class was excruciating.
As the article said, it became easier to say “I don’t care” than “I need help.”
In her case, the “I don’t care” came from hidden learning disabilities that she masked well that eventually manifested themselves in mental illness. It came from a school environment (both physical and pedagogical) that did not fit her needs. It came from a system that meant teachers had way too many kids to track. She switched teachers every trimester, so few teachers ever really go to know her to get below the “I don’t care.” It came from a learning environment that valued rote memorization and testing over creativity and critical thinking. The huge school and large classes meant that teachers had to do the easy-to-grade assessments, like multiple choice tests, as opposed to projects or more creative ways to express learning.
So, next time you see a student that doesn’t seem to care, don’t immediately blame them. Take a closer look. I bet there’s something else going on.
Just posting a link to a very interesting article about procrastination:
They teach people to recognize that they might have strong emotions, such as anxiety, at the start of a project but to not judge themselves for it. The next step is just to get started, step by step, with a narrow focus.
An article in MindShift, “Is School for Everyone?” discusses a concept that allows teens to fully direct their own learning, with appropriate adult mentorship and support.
Ken Danford founded North Star, a center that enrolls teens and allows them to learn on their own. A former middle school teacher, he saw too many kids damaged, disengaged and unable to learn. He has seen some amazing success stories out of North Star. There are apparently a few other places like this around the country. Students do have to take a GED or something in order to officially get a high school diploma. Many of these students do very successfully go on to college.
This would’ve been an ideal option for my daughter. Like the students in the story, she has significant anxiety around school and basically shut down. It would’ve taken her a few months to destress and come out, but I think she would’ve flown if given the proper adult mentorship and guidance, and allowed to learn at her own pace about things that inspired passion.
Would she have learned high level chemistry? Nope. Would she, perhaps, have explored a Mozart opera in depth? Probably. She may have learned to make films, done ceramics, listened to some great literature, taken tons of pictures, written some scripts, done some professional theater. This list could’ve been long. Instead, she was forced into classrooms with 30 kids, filled out worksheets and taken bubble tests.
We are hopeful that while college is still “formal” academic experiences, the fact that it is more self directed will allow her some more positive learning opportunities. Keep your fingers crossed.
And watch Ken’s TED Talk: