School Work and Choices
Michael F. Bowman (mfbowman@CAPACCESS.ORG)
Sat, 1 Jul 1995 07:31:32 -0400
Your posting engenders a lot of empathy. Went through the same thing with
my own son; e.g. grades, not turning in homework (excuse name not on it),
etc. We used the approach that he had to first evaluate how he was using
his time and then decide what time eaters were a problem. He quickly
decided that TV was a problem and agreed to restrict his own viewing time.
The harder part was computer games - that required a parental intervention
on my part; e.g., setting up a password to prevent access until we had an
understanding. The constructive process of youth decision making was the
The one thing we were loath to do was to suggest that he consider giving
up extracurricular activities involving personal growth such as Scouting
and band. That seemed counter-productive.
In the Troop he is learning to be self-reliant, to make decisions, to
plan, to use time productively, etc. It also is helping develop
self-esteem, self-confidence, and a host of values that support good
school performance. And while it takes time, the time is well spent in
his own character development. Without Scouting as an extracurricular
activity we would have to work several times harder and spend much more
time to get the same results. Thus it seemed that this option would in
the end be a negative for all concerned.
A word of caution is probably appropriate too. Before reacting too
strongly to a grade going down, there needs to be an understanding of
"why?" it has happened. It may appear to be a time management problem,
yet have nothing to do with time management at all:
1. Does the youth have a personality conflict with the teacher or other
problems with the class?
2. Is the youth trying to fit in better with classmates? Believe it or
not a lot of kids of Scouting age slack off to avoid shining to avoid the
barbs of peers for being too smart or nerdy in an effort to fit in.
3. Are dropping grades symptoms of other problems such as depression,
drug use, alcohol, etc.? It happens to a lot of great kids as they
struggle to get peer recognition, especially if they don't have a good
alternative to get peer recognition or acceptance (such as Scouting).
I am thankful that my parents strongly encouraged me to stay in Scouting
despite grades well below my potential. At as youth I can remember the
struggle to get peer acceptance and running with a gang of kids that
wasn't so good. There were seven of us and we were up to no good -
fights, vandalism, etc. My grades were plummeting. My folks really pushed
more Scouting involvement instead of forcing more time for homework and
fighting the choice of friends. The lures of Scouting worked and I
gravitated away from trouble. My grades didn't immediately improve, but I
got set on a better course.
Years later the results speak for themselves. Of the other six - three
are in prison (life sentances) and the other three are dead (one killed by
police during a crime, the others as a result of crime). Though my grades
could of been better, I did manage to get through it all and go on to nine
years of college.
I credit Scouting and my parents with making the difference.
BTW in Boy Scouting, Family Life and Personal Management merit badges are
great starting points for learning how to manage time and resources,
especially the Family Life spreadsheet on chores and duties (which can
Speaking only for myself in the Scouting Spirit, Michael F. Bowman
Prof. Beaver, Nat. Capital Area Council, BSA mfbowman@CAPACCESS.ORG
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City