Students who are afraid of failing

Interesting article published in local Headline News,translated here for you:

Many teachers assume students who are inattentive in class are lack of motivation.  Actually, some students do have motivation but their desire to run away from failure overtakes their desire for success.  The fear of failure is the main obstruction blocking their motivation.

After working hard for a certain period of time, these students find out that their school results are completely out of their control.  The repetition of this gradually develops into helpless behaviour.  For them, making efforts and reaching the targets are not related at all, so they blame themselves for being incompetent.   This learned helplessness deprives them of their hope and confidence.  They perceive that no matter how hard they try, failing is unavoidable, an outcome that you can do nothing about.  Eventually, they tend to give up.

The combination of great efforts and poor outcome will bring the biggest humiliation; while the low efforts and low outcome will lessen the humiliation.  If their repeated efforts only bring failure, their self-esteem will be at stake.  They will see making efforts as a risk because if you work hard and still fail, that proves you are incompetent.  Doing more brings more failure, doing less brings less, and doing nothing brings none.  So, if you don’t do anything, you won’t fail and thus no humiliation.

To protect their self-respect, these students may even “disarm” themselves and become “self-handicapping”.  Some may get drunk the night before their exams; while others may get themselves injured in a football match, so to divert people’s attention from the relationship between the school results and their ability.

These helpless students might rebel if teachers push them to try harder.  For them, the appreciation from teachers is not as important as avoiding the risk of failing that comes after big efforts.  They would rather refuse studying, or even disrupt the class, delay homework, run away from class or bully others to cover up, they may even challenge the teachers with adverse behavior, for the only purpose to avoid showing that they are incapable.

Now that we understand why lazy or bad students are afraid of failing, will the teachers see other ways to help these students?

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