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Thread: Yr 11 boy with uni ambitions but no interest in school work

  1. #1

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    Default Yr 11 boy with uni ambitions but no interest in school work

    DS1 is driving me (and his teachers!) nuts. He's currently repeating yr 11 (NSW) after deciding his courses weren't right for him and failing the year he came up with a new grand plan and after a lot of talking and pleading with the school he was allowed to change his courses and try again.

    He's a bright boy, who is capable of doing the work but he's just not bothering. So far this year he's failed to hand in major assignments for 2 of his subjects (losing him 40% for each course) and not bothered with any homework. I didn't know anything about this until parents evening last week.

    It's like he just doesn't get it - he doesn't put any effort into class work at yet he's desperate to go to uni and study biomedical engineering. He attends school every day and doesn't skip lessons but all his teachers have said he's just a bum on a seat, there's no participation or effort from him at all.

    We had the mother of all arguments last week that resulted in a lot of things being said by both of us that we regret and now it's as if nothing ever happened.



    I've already banned him from the Xbox and his DS and insisted all homework is done at my desk so I can encourage him to work and help him if he needs it. The daft thing is he doesn't need any real help, just prodding to remind him to keep working.

    I'm really struggling with him and his teachers have run out of ideas.

    Any one of any ideas on how I can get it through to him just how important continued effort at school is?

  2. #2

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    When you ask him why he isnt interested in putting in the effort what does he say? I think understanding his motivations (or lack there of) is the first step to brainstorming solutions.

  3. #3

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    No real advice but it sounds like how my brother was - he repeated final years of school (in UK) to do A LEVELS again but didn't really do any better - extremely intelligent but not interested - so then he did a foundation year thing (is like a pre uni year for people who didn't get grades for course) did really well and then went on to get a first class BSc and now has very good job. Out of the three of us he has done best for himself but he gave mum and dad heart ache those last few years (he didn't cause trouble etc was just a bit disinterested on everything really). I think also school and doing set subjects didn't interest him but then when did the foundation year in IT he was interested in it so that worked for him.

    For some people I think all you can do is support and wait for them to work it out for themselves.

  4. #4

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    Are there any uni open days/fairs that he could attend to maybe get a bit of inspiration? It is hard to suffer through 2 more years of doing stuff that doesn't interest him, but somehow it needs to sink in for him that to do what he wants he needs to complete the entry qualifications.

  5. #5

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    Just to expand a little as well, I think it is important to come at it from a collaborative angle rather than combative because you can try and force him, control his time and actions as much as possible but in the end, whether he tries or not comes down to him; it is his life, his potential mistakes and regrets. Trying to come up against him over it isn't exactly going to help really, it might guilt him into trying for a moment but what happens when you can't be there every second of everyday? He needs to find his own motivation and inspiration. Treating it as a him vs you/teachers will probably make him more resistant to it all and fracture your relationship. He has a goal so there is obviously some other roadblock there and dumping pressure on top of whatever that is isn't going to solve the problem, it is potentially going to exasperate it. I'd sit down and explain how you want to help but you aren't sure how, try and find out what the actual problem is and why it is standing in his way, explain that you don't want to force him into anything but are frustrated because you can see he has aspirations that you want to support and just don't know how you can help make it happen for him when it feels like he isn't that keen to himself and what does he think about all this. Then listen, really listen and give him the opportunity to find solutions for himself. Or let him mess up, maybe it is a lesson you need to allow him to experience.

    And in the end, some people just don't do well in a school environment or aren't ready to and take a few years to work it all out later, that is okay too. Trial and error is the building blocks for learning. School isn't the be all and end all and if it isn't working then it isn't working. He is still so young, his life path can never be completely cemented by this one outcome, there are always options and ways to get where you are going. Maybe even explore other options?

  6. #6

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    My DP says if someone had taken him and showed him what it would have been like to work as a lawyer (which he was interested in and is now studying - 20 years later), compared to the hard slog of a non-qualified sales job, he'd have worked a lot harder. He sounds a lot like your son at that age. Can he do work experience somewhere?

    The other point from DP is show him the difference in salary and ask him what kind of car he'd like to buy when he's working. Apparently, DP is motivated by the simple things!

  7. #7

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    Quite often depression or anxiety can be the cause of disinterest. I'm not saying he is depressed at all, but it might be worth trying to find out whether there is something going on in his life that could be causing this.

  8. #8

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    He sounds bored and that is quite easy IMHO when it comes to school! I was one of those kids and faffed about and zoned out and changed courses a million times...but once at uni was top of the table and graduated in the top 3% for the entire uni (without in all honesty ever really working hard for it lol...it's just that that style of learning suited me more and i understood it and could flourish ITMS).

    That said, the moment i hit uni i hit my stride. it suited me more. I know that this doesnt help the current situation you are in, but just want to add that he can get on top of it all and get through it and start his dreams. It might mean a year in a BA only until he proves his marks at uni.

    My only advice if he will let you, is to work hard together to keep him on track for the next 2 years. not sure if private tutoring is an option (My friend who was finishing off her PhD helped alot of kids in senior years and was able to provide uni perspective too to help guide them and provide 'light at the end of the tunnel'). will he agree to showing you what is due/what exams are coming up? There is so much to think about at that age that it can just be so darn overwhelming and it is easier to just switch off ITMS. I was like that totally!

  9. #9

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    Thanks everyone - I really appreciate all the comments.

    We sat down last night and had a good chat but I don't really think I got through to him. We talked about why I've been so hard on him and I asked if he understood my motivation behind my reactions and he said he did. He gets that I'm trying to get him into a place where he'll leave a school with options for either Uni or work (if that's what he decides to do).

    I'm pretty certain he was just saying that though and he really doesn't care either way. He doesn't do anything (in the house, at his part time job, or school) unless someone's on his back constantly. I've tried leaving him to it with just a gentle reminder but nothing gets done.

    He's genuinely interested in his subjects, he gets very excited talking about them and his future plans but his motivation to get through this year is zero.

    There's going to be a lot of handholding this year and I'm hoping that once he sees good results he'll start putting in the effort.

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