For the past three weeks, I have been tutoring an adolescent Black male. This young man was referred to me because he is doing poorly in school. Upon working with him, I discovered that his academic deficiencies have absolutely nothing to do with his ability. He is currently working at grade level; however, if you speak with his teacher he is not doing well. His grandmother reports she knows that he can do the work; he simply won’t do the work, acts as if he can’t do the work, plays a lot, is not focused, and not interested in school. On the surface, it appears as though he does not care about school. This is one of the many mechanisms Black boys use to fit in socially. He simply mimics behaviors he sees others like him displaying. The examples in front of him do not demonstrate the importance of school. It does not matter if those examples are at home, school, community or church. In order for him to make the necessary changes to his academic performance, he must see, feel, believe, understand, respect, appreciate, and acknowledge the impact education has on his life.
The approach I use when tutoring this young man is quiet simple. I expect him to do his best. I give to him my time, my undivided attention, elements of my intellectual property, passion, love and will not except anything but his best. I treat him with dignity and respect, and in return he does what he knows he is fully capable of doing. He rises to my expectations. There is no ill behavior, improper language, and no inappropriate attire. He is a model student.
As you begin to analyze this young man’s situation you may ask yourself if he is capable of performing at high levels with the tutor, why doesn’t he show the same behavior at home and school. You may be shocked by this answer, but expectation is everything. You may read several articles, books, look at videos and talk to educators who will provide you with a number of reasons as to why Black boys are not performing at high levels. Their excuses will range from lack of parental involvement, little to no support from administration, to teachers are just overwhelmed. Whatever the case may be they are simply excuses. Students do what we expect them to do. If you believe that Black boys are hopeless, self-destructive and penitentiary bound your expectations are mighty low, and you get what you expect. The home, school, community and church are so far removed from our children we have lost touch with what works. Black boys have a desire, want and need to be loved, honored and respected.
Together we can make a difference. When you see a Black boy, you should see greatness. Be honest with yourself and if need be, be willing to change your mindset as it pertains to Black boys. Black boys ROCK! They do marvelous things and become Black men who lead this nation, conduct the first successful open heart surgery, win the super bowl championship, lead schools where all the Black boys graduate and go to college. Black boys are phenomenal, and it is due time we be the change we want to see.
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