What approaches might be effective for motivating an underachieving U.S. high school student?
My son has been underperforming all through high school -- he gets Bs, Cs and Ds, and AFAICT it's because he does what he estimates to be the bare minimum, and his estimation skills are poor. I don't believe I'm nagging him: I ask once in a while if everything is going ok and if he needs help with some class, and very rarely he'll have a question, but it's always clear (to me, anyway) that he has waited until well past the time when he could possibly learn whatever he's asking about, or complete the assignment he's asking me to look over.
I don't believe he's stupid; he's just exceedingly lazy, and can't be arsed to do the work. And that wouldn't bother me either, if he was doing something else with his time, but that doesn't seem to be the case.
I have no idea what to do about this: I'd have been mortified to get grades like his, or to show up for class as ill-prepared as he is. (I still remember the one time I got caught out in high school: biology, and I didn't know all the features of a femur that I should have. But what I did was learn the rest of the bones so thoroughly that I still remember most of them, 33 years later. My kid appears to think "meh, I'll do better next time," but then makes the exact same underestimate of effort required.)
I don't have any particular respect for good grades per se
, except to the modest degree they may be indicative of effort expended and hoop-jumping competence acquired, but I believe he'll face plenty of hardships on account of his poor grades.
So, parents of MeFi, have you been able to convince your teen that it's worth doing the best job you can, even if you're not particularly interested in the subject? And mediocre-grade-getters of MeFi, is there anything you wish you had known, or that someone had said, before you got the last of your lackluster report cards? (Are poor grades really not that big a hindrance? All I really want is for my kid to be able to make it on his own, and not have a miserable time of it.)