Dan, who is in year 12 and doing General Maths, struggles A LOT. He doesn’t seem to have put in any effort throughout the year as he has no notes or recollection of learning many concepts. I find it difficult to try and cram through the general maths syllabus in these weeks leading up to the HSC whilst trying to get him to work effectively and gain a solid understanding of concepts. He says his expectations are a band 3 for general maths, which gives me the impression he isn’t willing to put in much effort into doing well as he isn’t expecting to achieve a very high result. I don’t know how to motivate him or get him to focus more.
An important question is “will his current efforts give him a band 3 result?” Generally, you can’t make someone want to get 100% if they only want to get 50%.
If he’s aiming to get band 3, it is probably because he needs a passing mark in math as a prerequisite or something to that effect and obviously he doesn’t care much about math. Find out why he is doing math and what his goals are. If those goals cannot be reached with his current effort, Dan is probably not aware of it. It seems like he expects band 3 and is ok with it.
If he is at risk of not gaining admission to the course he wishes to pursue due to failing math then he will start to care. Often students don’t realise how poor their math actually is; make him realise where he is at and what results he can actually expect. If he wants 50% but you think his math is at 30% then prove it to him. Show him past maths exams papers and demonstrate the standard that is required to pass. If he really needs the 50% then he’ll care.
As tutors it is our responsibility to inspire and motivate students to reach their potential, to help them do the best they possibly can and enjoy the process too. However, before we do that – it is our obligation to do our very best to help the client/student achieve their goals. Whatever personal ambitions we have as tutors, whatever satisfaction we get from helping students really succeed – the accomplishment of their goals must come first. Ideally we can do both at the same time but in the short space of time available before his exams, it seems you may need to focus exclusively on helping him pass.