Bringing Home the Bacon

Del was one of the most unmotivated students I have taught. He also had some learning difficulties. Over the years his teachers worked hard to get him through. He was among the last students to arrive in class and the first one to leave. He had a part-time job working for a butcher in an abattoir.

I taught him during his final year in high school. He was enrolled in my remedial biology class. One day we had a discussion regarding his lack of motivation and my need to be constantly after him to complete his assigned work.

“But I just don’t give a f***”, he told me.

“Del, I hear you but I don’t believe that that is true, but I am going to ask you not to use that language with me.”

“But I don’t give a f***.”

“Del, please stop using that language.”

“But I don’t give a f***.”

“Would you stop that? Now if you use that language again we are going to have a chat with the principal. He will not be impressed.”

He stopped dropping the F-bomb but insisted that he just didn’t care about school.

“Del, the fact that you are here tells me that you value your education. If you truly didn’t care then why would you bother coming to school? Now let’s come up with a plan that sees you being successful in this course.”

We agreed on a plan and formulated a relationship that worked, but it was a struggle.

Nearing the end of the course our final dissection was that of a fetal pig. The various activities associated with the dissection filled three lab sessions. Del was in his glory. I have never seen a student enjoy the pig labs as much as Del.

“Mr. Caines, come over here.”

“Del, it’s the end of class. It’s time to put your materials away and place the pig in the plastic bag.”

“Mr. Caines, come here. I have something to show you.”

The bell to indicate the end of class had sounded by this point and students were exiting the lab. I walked over.

“Look at this – Bacon.”

Del has neatly carved 3 stripes of bacon from the animal and had them laid out on his dissecting tray. I was impressed.

“Del, the class is over. Before you start preparing pork chops I want you to clean up and put things away. The pig will be waiting for you tomorrow.

The next day, Del was raring to go.

I won’t tell you what Del does for a living now but I bet you can guess.

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