Teachers! Students Aren’t Lazy!

Lazy student

Jose Quintanilla

Lazy student

We’ve all heard it before: the lecture that the teacher gives the class on paying attention and turning in your class work promptly and on time. Oftentimes, teachers will use the word “lazy” to describe their students’ behavior. However, I feel it’s misused. Students are either just bored and disengaged, or they have lack of motivation to begin or complete their assignments. There are plenty of reasons students procrastinate, nevertheless I feel laziness isn’t as common a case as teachers would have you believe.

I’m sure all of you are aware as to what laziness is, but in case you need a refresher, according to “Oxford Languages and Google” to be lazy is described as being, “Unwilling to work or use energy.” I feel that simply seeing students as being indolent when they don’t complete their assignments on time is quite shallow. As the “Education Week” subheading states, “Calling Students ‘Lazy’ Is A Result of Lazy Thinking”. Seems that as much as teachers throw the word “lazy” out at their students, they’re the lazy ones, at least when it comes to understanding their students.

Shelly Wright is also one who agrees with me. On a website called “WordPress” Wright, a high school educator herself, created a post called, “Please, Stop Calling Students Lazy”, in which she voiced her opinion on the subject. As the title would imply, Wright disagrees with the notion of teachers referring to the students as indolent. Including how offended parents and the students themselves would feel after receiving their teacher’s disrespectful comments. She also mentions other reasons as to why students may appear indolent, remarking, “I’ve actually never met a lazy student. Bored? Yep. Disengaged? Yep. Unmotivated by irrelevant academic hoops? Yep. But lazy? No”. Students aren’t unwilling to work, they’re simply often either bored and or disengaged.

In addition to this, students are also more unmotivated and more anxious than ever. According to “NCBI”, rates of depression and anxiety have increased quite dramatically since the pandemic as, “independent of age, there were increased generalized anxiety and social anxiety symptoms… also increased depression and panic/somatic symptoms.” With students struggling mentally far more than previous records, it makes it all the more imperative that teachers take this into account when evaluating their students. Students are more scared to start big projects, and less motivated to complete their assignments. Treating mental illnesses as laziness is not only incorrect, but also extremely invalidating to those who experience it.

There are a plethora of reasons as to why students tend to procrastinate on assignments or turn in poor work, seeming indolent to their teachers; they’re either uninterested and lack in giving their attention, or they lack motivation or the mental clarity to complete, or even start their assignments. Teachers, I ask that you be more careful with your words, telling students they’re lazy isn’t going to motivate or encourage them. Take time to evaluate your students and find the root cause if a student is struggling. We all thank you for it.

Oxford Languages and Google

Oxford Languages and Google – English

Education Week, Calling Students ‘Lazy’ is a Result of Lazy Thinking
https://www.edweek.org/teaching-learning/opinion-calling-students-lazy-is-a-result-of-lazy-thinking/2017/02

WordPress, Please, Stop Calling Students Lazy.
Please, Stop Calling Students Lazy.

NCBI, Increases in depression and anxiety symptoms in adolescents and young adults during the COVID-19 pandemic
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7844180/