Careless, Lazy and Unmotivated are Three Labels that Should be Banned from Education

Kids never strive to be careless, lazy or
unmotivated and referring to a student in this way never helps a
situation.  In fact, many kids that hear these labels again and again can
develop a sense of learned helplessness. 
I’ll never forget a student of mine coming into
one of our sessions in a terrible frame exclaimed, “I’m careless and
unmotivated!”  He slid a graded assignment across the table in front of
me.  Red marks cut across his work and in bold, scarring letters and
exclamation points the teacher had told Jake that he had made many careless
Even though Jake’s grade was an 88, it took me almost
an hour to convince him that he was not careless and unmotivated. Jake had
learning disabilities as well as ADHD and I knew the errors that he had made
had nothing to do with care or effort.  The poor guy was so detached and
dejected, he hadn’t even evaluated the mishaps, and when he finally looked at
them, he could see that they were all unintentional.
 At the end of our session, I pointed out to
Jake that his teacher had misspelled careless.  She had spelled it
“carless.”  I exclaimed, “How careless of her,” and winked at Jake. 
 I then pointed out that this wasn’t really a careless mistake, it was
simply an oops.  “School is a place where we should be comfortable making
an oops and then learning from it,” I proclaimed. 
I took the paper out into the waiting room and
showed it to his mother.  I then asked her to do me a favor and make an
appointment with the teacher.  “Hand the assignment back to the teacher”,
I recommended, “and point out how careless it was for her to have misspelled
this word.  Then pause for a short while and say, ‘That’s how you made my
son feel.’”
So please take care to erase these negative
labels from your lexicon so your students can feel safe to make mistakes and
then learn from them.
If you have any thoughts on this topic, I’d love to hear your thoughts!!
All the best, Dr. Erica Warren, Learning Specialist and Educational Therapist and

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