It’s the story of Kaddeem Wright, a 16-year-old boy born in Costa Rica who now lives in Brooklyn. Kaddeem starts by talking about how his whole life, teachers have been telling him how smart he is, but that that statement is often followed up by comments about how he is “unmotivated,” “lazy,” and “not keen on doing homework.” He talks about all of the different reasons that educators blame for his poor academic performance--from a mostly absent father to peer pressure from other students, and rundown schools--but goes on to dismiss all of them. This is one of the most moving and intimate pieces I’ve heard from a student who is experiencing first-hand what it’s like to not be living up to his potential.
There are a lot of new episodes to check out at WNYC’s Radio Rookies, and I have to say, this is some of the most inspiring and innovative radio I’ve heard in a long time. I’ve read a lot about student motivation from educators, parents, policymakers, journalists, and researchers, but I’ve never heard anything quite this frank about the struggles some students face to tap into their potential.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Motivation Matters blog.