An important factor in motivating students to perform well in school is impressing on them the seriousness of education. Many students have a tendency to think of school as something peripheral to their lives. Sure, they know that a high school diploma will help them, but there is a tendency to think of schooling as an unpleasant obstacle to overcome instead of a valuable, practical activity. A realistic, real-world-linked program could help these poorer students to understand better the seriousness of education. First, all schools up to high school in economically poorer areas should be vocational. Everything the student learns in the school should be clearly linked to performing well in some job. College-prep courses should be available for those who want to take them--possibly as independent study--but for the bulk of the curriculum, the connection to surviving after school should be very clear. For example, an algebra course might be focused on electronics. Classes might have to be broken up into several small groups so that one person can learn math for electronics at the same time another person learns approximately the same level of math for carpentry. English should be business-oriented. History, beyond the absolute basics needed to participate in a democracy, should be optional. Exposure to adults who have made various life choices would be helpful. Guest speakers should be brought in frequently, including equal coverage of hoboes and professionals. Students need a healthy fear of destitution and a clear goal of obtaining and holding a moderate-pay job. If possible, the instructors should come from working backgrounds. Finally, schools need the unpopular idea of encouraging and enabling students to drop out of courses and school. Students aren't going to learn when they don't want to learn. Furthermore, students need a more distinct understanding of the connection between their choices and what happens to them. They need a sense of control. Every student should be in school because he chooses to, not because anyone is "making" him do it, and the same should go for every course in school that the student takes. If any student views any course as an obligatory impediment to what he wants to do, that student is not going to do very well in that course. But if a student is absolutely certain that he is in a given course because he _chose_ to be there, with the easy option of _not_ choosing to be there, he is more likely to care about the material and do well. There is another good reason to encourage students to drop out: in any poor area the money available for education is limited. School systems should spend money for good books and teachers on students who want to learn. School systems should not have to waste money on students who do not want to learn. It's an efficient allocation of resources. But the main thing is, schools should impress students that it is a harsh world and that the choice between failure and success is their choice alone, a choice made through education. I would have continued this in the other thread, except it was closed. Sorry, moderators, for my rather peevish post in that other thread.