Posted by: malibulearning | October 5, 2011

Baffling Behaviors Part 2– Smart Students Who Don’t Do Their School Work

“Comeo n,”saidB et sy.”W eha vet opic kudth iscor n.W edon ‘thavea no therc anof boqc o rn.””A reweg oin gtoe atdo dcor ntha t’sbe enont heflo or,”a skedSusan. “W ec answas hit” sai d Be tsy.T hech ilp rene nttow or k.Itto okalo ngti meto dic kubth ebopc orn.Th enth eyto okt hecor ntoth ek itche nan pwa she bit.

If this is what you saw when you looked at a written page, could you accurately answer questions about what you read? 

What if it looked that way just some of the time?  Or just when you were tired, like in the evening when it’s time to do homework?

Please Note – The above passage is not just gibberish.  It actually follows patterns and has a very real, literal translation!

But it’s a LOT of work to try to make any sense out of it.  For me, just when I’m starting to pick up a few words, I lose it again.  And I know what it’s supposed to say!

What if someone told you that you just aren’t trying hard enough…that if you really put effort into it, you could get it?

About 30% of school kids with average and above average IQs have some kind of difficulty with underlying learning skills.  Reading, writing, math, comprehension, and a whole host of academic skills are made possible by dozens of these underlying skills.

Those skills usually develop automatically in humans, but in about 30% of BRIGHT people, some of those skills are missing or inefficient. 

A few of those skills cause written pages to look like the passage above.  Other missing skills will make the letters shimmer, vibrate, or look as if they are running off the edge of the page.  Still other skills involve auditory information, comprehension, or organization.

Many of the missing skills are subtle.  It means that the learner is receiving inaccurate or sporadic information.  The person doesn’t know when what he understands is accurate or when it’s not.

So why is it that these kids don’t do their work?  Three reasons:

  1. Because they can’t.  They aren’t getting enough accurate information to do the assignments.
    1. Because they have tried and failed too many times.   How many times would you fail at something before you quit trying?  Most adults have very little tolerance for “games they can’t win.”  And yet these kids live in this environment day after day, week after week, year after year.  It takes a real toll not just on the kid, but on the whole family.
    2. Because it takes too much energy.  To get the same results as everyone else, these kids have to work 10 times or even 100 times harder.  And even then they don’t know if it’s really right.

Here is what these kids have learned to live with:


There is nothing worse for school kids than being embarrassed.  And by consistently not doing their work, they put up with that feeling of embarrassment each and every day.  After a while, when teachers say, “Take out your homework,” these kids get “the look” from teachers.  The other students just know. 

But the pain of embarrassment is what they’ve learned to live with.

These are bright kids who believe they aren’t very bright.  They constantly disappoint teachers, parents, peers, and especially themselves.

And so they copeThey act brash, or uncaring, or too cool.  It’s much better than acting humiliated because they can’t do the work or they can’t get it right.

While there are permanent answers now available, schools and tutoring don’t really solve the problems.  There are a growing number of practitioners that do.  There just aren’t very many…yet.

For now, while families look for help, help them treat these bright, capable kids with the kindness and patience they need.  And then help them find real, and permanent solutions.



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