Why I Lie To My Students Sometimes…
Updated: May 22
Sometimes, I lie to my students.
It’s not often. And it’s usually with good intention. But still, sometimes I lie.
The most common reason I lie to my students is in response to a very particular question…
Am I ever going to use this?
As a Maths tutor, this question sucks. Because there are parts of the curriculum that 99% of students will never use in their working life. Which means I only have two possible ways to respond.
I could tell the truth…
Which would instantly strip my student of all motivation and reason to apply themselves. That’s the world we live in. Unfortunately, curiosity towards knowledge is a diminishing trait among all people (not just students). Which means, simply put, that most students don’t want to learn for the sake of learning. They want to learn valuable and useful information, and will always prioritise this over ideas in which they see no value.
Now, the argument about whether this is a good or a bad thing is a discussion to be had elsewhere. The point here is, without motivation and drive, the school system is set against students.
The curriculum is not designed for students to choose what they learn.
The are supposed to learn what is prescribed, and if they don’t, they fail.
Or I could lie…
This is the route I usually take. While I would love to be able to tell students the facts and then help them learn something they are passionate about, I can’t.
I can’t because this would typically come at the cost of grades, which is a slippery slope towards them losing all confidence.
So I lie.
Or at least, I speak creatively. Because often, there isn’t a good scenario where the particular topic would come in useful. So instead, I show them creative scenarios and find other ways to fire them up and get them motivated.
Sometimes I can tell them honestly that the Maths will help them in life.
But sometimes I can’t. And in those situations, I work instead to show students the value of Maths in other ways – about the skills and thinking styles that they develop, rather than the content value itself.
I lie to my students to help them succeed
Because unfortunately, the truth doesn’t help. The truth takes away motivation and focus. These are things without which it becomes extraordinarily difficult to excel in school.
And while I would love to push students towards their passion and curiosity, the typical reason students work with me is Maths, whether they like it or not.