That was Mason’s response to the prompt “What’s your favorite movie? Why is it your favorite?” It was part of a Getting to Know You assignment at the start of sixth grade. I had to look up "F9." Turns out it is the abbreviation for Fast and Furious 9, the ninth movie in the long-running saga. This brought up three questions:
- There have been nine Fast and Furious movies?
- Should a sixth grader be watching Fast and Furious movies?
- How can I get Mason to write more?
I’ll just talk about the last question here. Every teacher has reluctant writers. In Mason’s case, he is two or three grade levels below his peers in writing. He knows he is not good at writing. Years of extra support and encouragement haven’t changed his opinion of writing or markedly improved his writing ability. I think I know why.
In school, we tend to focus on deficits. If a child is behind others, we try to address the deficit. Difficulty reading? We’ll give you more reading to bring you up to speed. Difficulty with math? We’ll give you more math. In my school, we took students out of electives to give them extra classes in their problem areas. Mason couldn’t take Media Production because he needed the remedial writing class. (Yes, we changed the name of the class and didn’t use the word “remedial.”) To Mason, this was double punishment. Not only was he unable to take a fun class, but he was forced to do more of what he hated.
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