"How to Fix a Broken High Schooler in Four Easy Steps" is the second part of the Freakonomics two-part podcast on American education and Philip Oreopoulos, who sets up programs to help high-risk students succeed, summarizes four major reasons why students fail:
1) students are too focused on the present-- which describes my own children perfectly, even though I always tell them "think about the future," this simple maxim doesn't sink in-- they live in the moment, without any worry of the consequences of their words and actions;
2) students tend to overly rely on routine, and just keep doing what they've been doing in the past-- and this one does NOT apply to my own children, as they can't establish a routine if their life depended on it (see number one);
3) students sometimes think too much about negative identities-- they focus on what they're not good at or hang around with the wrong crowd (I think my boys might BE the wrong crowd);
4) mistakes are made more often in stressful situations or situations where there's not enough information-- and this is a tough one because my natural inclination is to yell at my kids when they're doing something stupid because they lack information, but the yelling causes stress and they don't listen anyway, so we're caught in a vicious cycle of ignoring them and letting them fail on their own (which they do with flying colors) or telling them how to think and behave, which usually results in yelling and stress and more mistakes . . . so essentially there's no hope as a parent, you can never do the right thing and you just have to hope that by reading lots of comic books, your kids will pick up enough literacy to make it in the world.