Saturday, April 20, 2013


Over the years, I've had a few students that sit in their desks, and literally do nothing for the entire year. Not only do they not do the non-fun classwork, that we're all required to do by the state, but they don't really relish participating in the fun activities that we do as a class. I have to take the role of head negotiator/chief nag, in order to squeeze anything from these students. At first, I spend a great deal of think time, figuring out how to motivate them. Then, after a few months, I realize that they aren't going to have any buy-in, no matter what I do, try, or say. Thankfully, this is a tiny percentage of the school population.

One quality that each of these students has had in common is destructiveness. They shred paper and throw it on the floor. They chop crayons into tiny bits and throw the bits on the floor. They often cannot sit on chairs or use a desk properly, so they end up breaking furniture from hard use after a year. Another quality that they have in common, is that their parents often tell me how creative or gifted their students are. This baffles me. I always think of creative people as those that "make" or "do". It is part of the creative drive to produce, whether it is writing, being an athlete, being a scientist, being a historian, being an actor, being musical, being a leader, or making art. So, it is curious that these students are identified with this term. Maybe it is wishful thinking on the part of the parents. Maybe I'm just not seeing it. Maybe there is a hibernation period, and these students need some down time, before their creativity germinates. Maybe I am like Albert Einstein's teacher, or William Morris' teacher. William Morris famously said, "I learned nothing, for next to nothing was taught."

I often wonder if many teachers in the past ran across this phenomenon, or if it's more modern. Food for thought.


  1. This is SO interesting! I have two immediate thoughts in response, and I as think it over I'll probably have more.
    First is that "destructive" is the opposite of "creative" and I'm not clear about the stepping stone from one to the other. Perhaps ego-needs intervene and if this person can't have what they think they want (atmosphere/activity/attention), maybe they will just vote No and Destroy All Things.
    And second, perhaps these parents are using the word "creative" differently than you, meaning perhaps more like "thinking outside the norm" or "marching to a different drummer." (ie, the family black sheep...or worse.)

    At least you got over thinking it was YOU!

  2. I think you may be right on both scores. There is a bit of anger and frustration which I think fuels the destructiveness. There is an inconsiderateness to it, or a selfishness as well. It is also compulsive behavior. And, I guess that I am thinking of the word creativity in a constructive way.

  3. I actually often do feel that it is me. But, then I find out that other teachers have had the same experiences with the same students.


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