Ryan’s mother had called when signing up for SAT class. She had the exasperated voice that I know so well: caring parents who had tried for many years to inspire their child to work harder.
Ryan was a tough case. He didn’t listen to either his parents or his teachers. He had struggled through the Madison’s school system for years. Ryan had a freedom oriented personality and automatically rebelled if he felt that he was being trapped. For those who have read my book, Motivate Your Son, he fit the profile of an Adventure Boy.
In our SAT class, I teach my motivational philosophies as part of the class. I suppose it is the distinguishing feature of the class as those who leave get test prep training plus motivational shifting.
In one of my discussions on why training for the SAT served the student’s interest, I focus on the freedom of shaping one’s future. I present the college search as a myriad of options. Much like a shopping trip, students will dislike, like, and, with hope, love some options. They will want whatever those options are and the SAT or ACT will be one of the ways that will help ensure that they get what they want. Ryan’s initial disinterested face perked up. His mom called the next day and, as is often the case, asked what kind of magic was happening in class. “He’s actually asking about the college process!”
I responded: “I’m not his parent!” That’s at least part of the truth. The other truth is that in doing this work for nearly 20 years, I understand how to shift young adults to care for their own sake. That makes all the difference.