Divorce, Drugs and Other Demons that Affect the Learning Process
The Divorce Disaster
Victims of divorce have their own unique context of conversation.
“I can’t hang out tonight. I’m going to my father’s house this weekend.” is a commonly heard statement as my students discuss their plans.
Forty to sixty percent of each class I teach are dealing with the terrorizing trauma of divorce. As high school juniors they adjust fairly well to dealing with a split family… at least on the surface.
Their inner sadness surfaces at the most unexpected times.
For example, in an anecdotal example of Bernoulli’s principle in physics I was telling of a time when my father needed to hit a huge slice around a tree. As part of explaining the physics of the situation, I was also recounting the enjoyment of golfing with my father.
Suddenly, in the midst of my illustration, a girl in the front row stiffened her body language and an angry, contorted look came to her face.
Without prompting she blurted out, “I hate my father. He ditched us two years ago for a girl barely older than me.”
So for that moment in time, for that hurting girl, kiss learning physics goodbye.
The Dilemma of Drugs
Several times I’ve had the same students for an afternoon class that I’d had earlier in the day. That situation all too often gives some interesting observations.
Three guys in my morning computer programming class were bright, enthusiastic and motivated to learn.
Late afternoon physics was totally different, however, and it wasn’t the fault of the physics.
The trio of boys must have eaten things that gave them multiple personalities for lunch, for they often came to physics as completely different people. Some days they came distracted by the smallest of event, inappropriately talkative and extremely defocused.
Other days they were lethargic, sleepy-eyed and mentally remote.
Their grades reflecte the disastrous effect of their lunch diet. Strong A’s in the morning; barely C’s in the afternoon.
Our relationship was rather open and friendly, so one day I posed the following as they left the morning class.
“Gentlemen, today we’re doing really tough stuff in physics. How about you eat a normal lunch today?”
Their suddenly red faces and uneasy fidgetting told the story, and one of them confirmed it as he gasped and said, “How did you kn…?” stopping short of “know?” as he realized his gaffe.
You may have students or friends whose adolescent age children are dealing with drug issues but can’t be helped by the resources you or your school can provide.
If that’s the case, there is a Christian treatment consultant who can help you find the proper system of treatment needed.
The list goes on of the intriguing realities that have a profound effect on the learning environment.
- dealing with chronic disease
- major parent-kid anger
- a pregnant girl friend
- terrifc inferiority feelings
You get the picture, don’t you?
This learning and teaching thing isn’t simply “covering the material,” but we’ve got to overcome numerous learning hurdles. And we’re supposed to do this while being politically correct, sensitive to diversity and never do anything to make a student be embarrassed or hurt their self-esteem.
There are no easy answers to the multitude of questions, but in future articles on this site we will address some actions that teachers have taken in the pursuit of Higher Order Reasons for Learning.