Kids want to be useful and contributing members of society. They want to be treated like responsible young people, sometimes even adults.
More often than not, when given the chance to rise to the occasion, I see children rise.
Rarely, however, do we actually give them the chance.
Here is a short story that has been played out every single year that I have been in education.
A student is described as lazy, disruptive, or uncaring by nearly every adult that is working with that child.
Plans are created to get the child to "buy into the system" and there is no response, again and again.
Finally, the adults realize that the student is not going to buy into their system, and they finally ask the student to design a system that is going to work for him or her.
When the student is finally given that chance, the behavior changes, and the student is suddenly no longer lazy, disruptive, or uncaring.
Rather than go through all this frustration trying to get the student to do the system we talk about, why don't we just start by engaging them, instead of focusing on getting them to buy into our system?