First, I am the Slacker the title refers to. You are not committing to anything, making any kind of confession, or giving up on yourself or your child just by reading this. There is no Slackers’ Anonymous, as far as I know, and if there were this certainly wouldn't be it.
The working definition of Slacker, for this purpose, is someone who wishes to get by on less than the required amount of effort. It is common to categorize these people as “lazy”, but that’s not quite correct. Slackers are capable of expending a great deal of effort; they are just not very likely to apply it the way you would choose for them. See also: YouTube, Star Wars collectables, and Microsoft.
If you’re still not quite sure, here’s a little quiz. Answer YES to three or more of these, and, well you know…
- Do you have above-average IQ and below-average grades?
- Have you have been consistently accused of not working to your potential? By the way, consistently, not just one teacher who thought you could do better--that could mean you are stupid with one well-meaning teacher.
- Do you get a physical, shuddering, mildly-violent reaction to certain kinds of assignments – particularly repetitive, poorly defined, or overly ‘clever’ ones?
- Is there is something in your life that you’re secretly very good at – hidden by:
2. it being something that people don't generally value – video games, skateboard (I hear it’s called ‘skating’ now but that conjures for me images of girls on ice-skates, in swimsuits, with little lace skirts—have I mentioned that I’m really old?), playing the guitar?
- Do you perform better on standardized tests than your grades would predict?
- Can you think of kids who are getting the same grades as you, but who are working much harder?
- Do you typically get whatever grade you choose, even if you typically choose rather low grades?
School is, in fact, straightforward but you should know that it too is the slacker’s choice. Providing a Slacker’s Guide to anything else would require looking outside of my own experience, which starts to sound like work.
Here is a list of the current items on the Slacker’s Guide. I plan to delve into each one in future posts, but I plan to do a lot of things. If you’re reading this, I guess I eventually did hit PUBLISH POST, so perhaps there is a chance you will see some of it in the future.
- More on Slacker triage—are you one? Really? Really?
- School isn’t for you—why there is no slacker lobby, and why we need one
- Other slackers at school—use them wisely
- Exploiting teacher bias—find out what your teacher cares about, and try to care about it too for a little while
- Read the Question—and other advanced test-taking tips
- Tips from non-slackers--grade calculation, and the art of reading a syllabus
- Great slackers in history—Thomas Edison, Renoir, and the value of a great staff
- She’s really pretty, and he’s really a sucker—use your gifts for maximum benefit
- Finding your niche—or, hiding in plain sight
- Life after school—careers for the slacker