On ‘Lazy’ Students

In education, some adults talk about students who simply ‘don’t care’ or are ‘totally against learning’ or are the ‘laziest group I’ve ever had’.

Hard truth time: that’s a reflection of the teacher in front of them at that time. Their laziness is boredom and disengagement with the work and it is feedback to the teacher. We know that feedback can sometimes be hard to take and this situation is no different.

So for all the educators talking about their lazy (but actually bored, or disengaged, or marginalized, or traumatized) students, what steps are you taking to improve what you do? How can you reach your students where they are and engage them? How can you improve your practice and ignite curiosity and creativity in your students?

I know that this is a hotly contested point of view and I’m positive that there were times I was one of those teachers. But it holds true as I look back and reflect on my years of experience as a student, teacher, administrator, consultant, and strategist.

The group most heavily impacted by this is our Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) community. They do not find themselves reflected in their teachers or their schools, their culture is not displayed in textbooks or on classroom walls, and they regularly encounter resources and assessments written with incredible bias and they are then labeled as disengaged. This is a reflection of the system and our practices. If you want to start to understand the problem as it impacts the Black community in particular, please read For White Folks Who Teach in the ‘Hood… and the Rest of Y’all Too, by Dr. Chris Emdin.