Tuesday, April 12, 2011

How do you help people who don't want your help?

When do you shake the dust off your feet on their doorstep?
Does it matter how old they are?
Is 11 too young?
Is it fair to give the full attention of two adults to a child who refuses to do anything when there are many others who want your help but can't have it because you're busy with the one that doesn't care?
I remember reading "Bartleby the Scrivener" by Herman Melville in 11th grade and thinking, "Wow, this guy is a pain in the butt. Good thing this is just a fictional work."
Ha.
I have a few Bartlebys (Bartlebies?) in my class. One in particular just sits. My aide and I have pleaded, reasoned, asked, and tried to figure out what's going on for him/her. All we get is a shrug. Nothing. Just stonewalling.
Finally, after watching him/her do nothing for 75 minutes, I went to the principal and asked what to do. He said, "You know, we are not babysitters. We are educators. If s/he's going to do nothing, s/he might as well do it at home."
The student didn't end up going home, and got a token amount of work done, but only when s/he was put in isolation away from the class. S/he's a nice enough kid, but s/he just doesn't want to do anything. There must be something larger at work, something askew in this child's psyche. I know that if I were being pursued by all the adults in my life to work, I would do it--if for no other reason--just to get them off my case. Apparently, that isn't enough for this one. Maybe s/he just wants attention and will take it any way it can be gotten. But it is really frustrating for us. As I said, s/he is just one of 22 kids at any given time, and there are others who need help...even some that WANT help because they WANT to succeed. Why should I neglect them? I think we have led this horse to the water, and we are trying to force it to lap up even a sip of water, and it is refusing. Shouldn't I go to the ones that are thirsty?
I know this child needs help, but if feels like help on a deeper level than we can provide. God-type help. Time to pray, I guess.
p.s. I tried to make this post gender neutral because I don't want the child's identity to be guessed at, since I don't know who reads this blog.

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