One of the most intelligent students in my school essentially decided not to graduate with his class. I have worked with him one on one for three years, watched him emerge as a phenomenal poet and thinker, and also observed him sabotage his own successes time and again.
Poet left himself a credit short after failing to pass a World History class in his sophomore year. His counselor should have caught this and forced him to take the class again or retrieve the class another way, but ultimately Poet knew he needed the credit and did nothing to redress the error over the next two years. Furthermore, when he realized he wasn’t walking with his class, Poet decided not to complete the culminating paper required to pass a senior history course. Poet is now enrolled in summer school.
As frustrated and angry as I am with the situation, I really believe Poet did this to himself and I think he subconsciously seems to be repeating the mistakes of his family. They did not graduate, so he now won’t. The cycle of poverty can be a powerful barrier. Poet has all of the ability in the world to succeed, yet I have watched him time and again put himself in one bind after another.
He reminds me of the first lottery winner. You may know his story, though I must admit I’ve forgotten his name:
He was about 48 years old when he won $1 million, so he decided to “retire.” He’d lived poor all his life, and he spent the lottery winnings in just over 2 years. No one wanted to hire a middle-aged man, so the first lottery winner concluded his life on welfare. Thus, he completed the cycle of poverty.
I think Poet has done the same. I think he fears success, and he fears what the future holds for him.
When I return from my conference in early July, I think I may go to summer school just to sit with Poet and ensure he does his work. At a minimum I will check on his progress regularly. He needs to face his fears.