Accidental honesty happens when all else fails. Which is why I told Greg "College is gonna kick your ass!" In front of a room full of students...
Greg is an amazing kid. He is smart and funny and kind and interesting. His writing is exceptional. His analytical skills are superior. His grasp of abstractions is excellent. His enthusiasm and creativity is contagious.
His maturity is lacking. His superiority is well-developed. His need to perform for his peers is overwhelming. He reminds of the lizard in Rango--all arms and legs and acting.
One day in class, Greg was running the show. I mean, he spontaneously took over the questioning and management of the discussion and taught the lesson. I actually sat down and put my feet up--because I could and the learning just flowed on without me. It was a beautiful, amazing, and rare. I wish I could create a classroom where that was the norm. I'm not that cool yet. Anyway...
As the conversation and activity were winding down, I moved to the computer seat to set up the next portion of the lesson.
This seat was next to Greg. We were transitioning to the end of class and I was in the process of assigning the homework for the day when Greg declared "I don't do homework."
I responded "I thought you said you wanted to go to college."
He said "Yeah, I'm gonna go to college."
I slowed down and said "Greg, you do understand that most of college is homework, right?"
He said "I know, but I don't do homework."
I was getting pretty exasperated and running out of ideas. Greg and I had the homework conversation on a regular basis.
He started the year consistently completing homework...then he let a girl ruin his life. She dumped him and he broke up with his grades. The recovery had been slow, painful, and not a little frustrating.
Without thinking, I blurted "College is gonna kick your ass" loudly enough for most of the class to hear me.
Not surprisingly, the laughter was immediate and fierce. My chagrin, embarrassment, and concern that I might have humiliated Greg in a damaging way were overwhelming.
Greg surprised me. He chuckled as he glanced around and said, "It really is, Ms. Hirsch, it really is."
We moved on.
I'd like to say Greg got himself together and started completing his homework for me again. He didn't, not really, not right away.
A year later, Greg came by during lunch one day for a visit. He wanted to complain about his new English teacher. I let him say his piece and we discussed the choices he could make to be more successful and handle his frustrations.
His complaints are irrelevant. So are his feelings about his new English teacher.
But his explanation was PRICELESS. He explained that he didn't want to do the writing process in the way the teacher required, so instead he was going home and doing it on his own, in his own way. He showed me the A+ he got on a paper with the glowing comments about his writing.
He didn't complain about working at home. He didn't complain about writing an essay. He just wanted permission to do excellent work in the way that worked best for him.
College may not kick his ass after all. That is a good thing.