Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Low-Effort Syndrome: Just Another Label For Lazy

John Ogbu was a Nigerian-American anthropologist and professor known for his theories on observed phenomena involving race and intelligence, especially how race and ethnic differences affected educational and economic achievement. One of his more famous studies was why Black children consistently underachieved in the affluent suburb of Shaker Heights, Ohio.

Ogbu found that while Shaker's Black children did better academically than Black children everywhere else in the state and in much of the nation, the gap between the Black children of Shaker Heights and their White schoolmates was significant. For instance, more White kids were in advanced placement and honors courses. The Black children however, who took the easier "general education" and "college prep" courses but made up 80 percent of the failing grades.

During the course of the study, Ogbu and his researchers found that, in general, White students studied more, worked harder and cared more about getting good grades. Even more interesting was the fact that Black students knew one had to work hard to succeeded, but didn’t. Ogbu characterized this as low-effort syndrome. . . . “[They] were not highly engaged in their schoolwork and homework.’ And their parents and communities, wittingly or not, supported them…”

You know what? This just sounds like laziness to me and giving it a new label is part of what is wrong with our children today—we as parents don’t want (or want anyone else) to hold them accountable! There’s nothing clinical about this, these children simply didn't want to apply themselves. That’s called laziness.

Recently, a teacher introduced her students to the study. And you know what these kids said was the number one cause of the problem? Lack of parental involvement. Yep, you’re hearing it here—again. Parents, take an active part in your child’s education.

  • Education is important. Homework has to be done. Let children know that this is what you value.
  • Read to them while they’re young and encourage them to read while they continue to stay with you—a family that reads together grows together.
  • Set specific study times—peek in on them from time to time to be sure they are doing it.
  • Try to have a special place where each child can study.
  • Ask to see homework and check it after it’s done.
  • Review report cards.
  • Monitor what your kids watch on television. In fact, turn it off while they’re young and give them a book.
  • If your kids are having problems with a subject, get them a tutor if you can.
  • Keep your child’s mind active during the summer months by having them study a bit each week, especially on subjects they are week in.
  • Help your children plan how to do all the things they need to do--study, work around the house, play, etc.
  • Let your children know that you have confidence in them. Remind them of specific successes they have had in the past perhaps in swimming, soccer, cooking, or in doing a difficult homework assignment.
  • Don't expect or demand perfection. When children ask you to look at what they've done--from skating a figure 8 to a math assignment--show interest and praise them when they've done something well. If you have criticisms or suggestions, make them in a helpful way.

3 comments: said...

Hi there!

I absolutely agree with you... it is LAZINESS!

As a former teacher, I can also attest to the fact that low expectations of teachers will also impact the psyche of children.

I would hear some teachers saying "now you can do SO MUCH better than that, Kirsten!" when the white students were not giving their best effort but when the black students were not giving their best effort, there was no coaching or any words of affirmation conveyed to them that would indicate, "we expect much more from you!"

I think that these are factors that are not often measured in these so-called research efforts to compare the achievement levels of black students and white students.

Feel free to drop by my spot anytime and jump into the group discussions!

Peace, blessings and DUNAMIS!

Iam Robert said...


Thanks so much for your comment! All I want is for parents to work with their kids and teachers. I think this would provide the best future for their children. But why are so many parents taking a "hands off" approach? And why is there a difference in expectations for our kids?

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