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Photo ofKwali Jenkins

Throughout my years of elementary and middle school, I was smart, but apathetic. Homework? Too easy, too tedious, too much time wasted on something I don’t want to do. Classwork? That I had to do in order to actively participate in class, but homework? There’s no reason to do it when it’s easy and tedious.

My biggest supporters from second to eighth grade -- the teachers at the Ohrenberger -- would always support me in trying to get me to apply my knowledge to the homework assignments. They saw my grades on the MCAS, the state standardized test, and wondered why I didn’t just knock out my homework since it counted for a good portion of my grade. “It’ll be beneficial for you to do your homework since you’re so bright,” they would say, but I couldn’t grasp the worth of doing my homework and I was rather apathetic about my grades.

One of my biggest struggles as a kid was that I was hard-headed and stubborn. I couldn’t understand why we had to do homework. We would go to school, learn about a subject and apply the knowledge to our classwork, just to have homework about the same thing. My grades also didn’t improve because of my knowledge of a loophole in the grading system. Even if you had low to subpar grades, if you passed the MCAS with flying colors (which I always did), you could go on to the next grade because it showed an understanding of the grade-level standards regardless of your final grade in a class. 

Homework wasn’t something that was difficult to do, it was just something I believed had no value. I was irritated during these times because my parents would constantly take my video games away when my grades were poor. Often I’d go months without my video games so I had nothing better to do than do my homework. I would get my grades up, get my video games back, stop doing my homework, get my video games taken away again, and repeat. It was a never-ending cycle that I thought would be a recurring pattern for the course of my life with my parents. But that is when something miraculous happened.

I wanted the constant arguing with my parents about my grades to end. I wanted the constant sameness -- doing nothing at home, eventually getting back my video games, losing them once more -- to end. I wanted to strive for more than just playing video games and arguing. I wanted to obtain the things in my life that I dreamed of, like a career that I’m passionate about. These things were more important than rejecting my work for short-term comfort.  I wanted control of my life, so I changed to better my grades and eventually go to a good college and pursue a career in a field that I am passionate about. 

My life from then on knew nothing but peace. Easy homework, better grades, colleges coming to me to apply -- life couldn’t get any better. As much as I hate doing homework still, I now know that in life we often have to do things that we hate in order to have the things that we love (as cliche as that sounds). 

I wouldn’t say I’m a completely changed person, just that I’ve changed the way I view the things I disdain. Pushing through things we hate isn’t beneficial -- it’s a necessary evil we all must face and accept no matter how bad it is. Without hard work, we truly can’t learn and grow as individuals. Homework is something to me that I had to push through to get to where I am now, and I’m certainly glad I changed my stubborn ways of thinking.

© Kwali Jenkins. All rights reserved. If you are interested in quoting this story, contact the national team through this website and we can put you in touch with the young person's teacher.