I recently had a conversation with what modern educators like to call "a discouraged learner".
On a good day, with a tail wind, this student scales the heights of average.
In one of his classes he was pretty proud. He was carrying a "B".
Then he read the comments. They were withering.
Done. He was done. He was beyond done. Here he is knocking down a "B" and the teacher slagged him.
I asked him, "What do you do when you buy a new video game and you get 'killed' early on the first level? Do you pitch it in the trash?"
"No." the young man told me. Teenagers tend to speak in short sentences.
"What do you do?" I prodded.
"Play it again." he said.
"What else?" I badgered.
"Whaddya mean?" he said.
"Do you do exactly the same thing next time?" I asked.
"Don't be an idiot. That is stupid. Why would I do the same thing that got me killed?" he sputtered.
"Good point." I conceded.
"What happens when you get killed at that same place every time you try it? Then what do you do?" I asked.
"I ask a friend for a 'cheat'." he said.
"What if you can't get ahold of a friend?" I asked.
"I might go on the computer and use google to find the cheat or the hack." he said.
"You are a master video game player." I said.
"Ya, I am pretty good." he agreed, modestly.
"You can be a great student too. You just have to do the same things in school that you do with video games. And here is the thing: Those comments that made you mad....those are the hacks. The instructor is telling you how to beat the game." I said.
And now the truth
The conversation ended after "Good point." because the young man had places to go and things to do.
I included the rest because some of you might run into "discouraged learners" who can use a little help seeing how to leverage their strengths into academic success.