I teach high school students. I've found that many of them enter my classroom without the most basic understanding of language, grammar, and logic. These kids can't pick out a topic sentence, can't use apostrophes, have no idea what a personal pronoun is, and can't apply the skills I've modeled for them to another example--even after dozens of practice attempts. They just don't get it that if this particular rule applies in one place, it probably applies in another place... and this is a nightmare when it comes to conjugating! I do my best to roll up my sleeves and start from scratch, but it's so hard. They fight me every step of the way because no other teacher before me actually made them learn stuff. Apparently it had always been enough that they filled in a couple of blanks and circled a couple of multiple choice answers. In my classroom, however, students must actually demonstrate their knowledge of a particular skill or concept. I had one parent at the beginning of the year call me and scream at me about her student's grade on an assignment. The student didn't turn in the assignment, so I gave her a zero for it. The mom demanded that I change the score to a 59%, since that was an F. She explained to me (as though I were a first grader) that a score of zero would bring her daughter's grade down a lot more than a score of 59%. I calmly explained that my policy was that students earn scores based on their effort and the quality of their work. Zero effort = zero for a score. And that was the end of that, at least with this mom. What I've really struggled with this past year has been this pervasive apathetic attitude of many of my students and many of the students at my school. I can assign a project to 100 kids, and I will truly, honestly, no exaggeration receive 5 on the due date. 5 out of 100. That's 5%. All the teachers at my school complain of the same phenomenon. How can I possibly give a passing grade to a student who just doesn't do the work? Some students have failed to turn in like 15 or 20 assignments over the course of the semester. If they don't even try, then I have nothing to work with. I suspect that many of my students don't turn in their assignments because they find the work too difficult. Like I said before, they don't seem to have been asked to really think about things before. So when I ask them to do just that, they fuss and whine and get overwhelmed. I've tried ameliorating my worksheets to make them extremely visually pleasing with lots of pictures and very little actual work, and then graduating to slightly more difficult worksheets and assignments. And that's all been to virtually no avail. Right now I'm planning out my syllabus for next year and I'm having a hard time taking all this into account. I haven't yet decided what I'm going to do, but I do know that I will continue to have high (but not unreasonable or unattainable) expectations for my students. After all, no one rises to meet low expectations.