A few weeks ago, I read a story in examiner.com, about a student, now 25, and a cum-laude graduate from college, who made his homework optional, both in high school and in college.
Intrigued, I emailed his mother, Julia Rhodes, to find out a little more. She told me that her son, who had been diagnosed with a learning disability when he was young, was “smart as a whip,” but struggled in school. His grades in elementary school reflected his refusal to do homework and when he went to high school, he decided that he would negotiate a deal so that he wouldn’t have to do homework. “A great communicator,” her son talked to his teachers and made deals with them. He told them he would help them, tutor other students, and do well on his tests, but that he just couldn’t face doing the “mundane, day-to-day work.” And his teachers, eager to keep the personable athlete in their Sonora, California, high school, agreed. Even through college, her son negotiated deals with teachers.
Rhodes, a single mother and a teacher for many years, instilled in her son “the belief that he could do anything. I didn’t care about his grades,” she told me. “Not everyone has to be an A student. I’d seen too many driven kids, and they weren’t happy or passionate about what they were doing. I just wanted my son to believe in himself and I helped him learn how to advocate for himself.”