Monday, January 8, 2007

It happens like this every single semester…

Student is completing very little work to credit standard. Teacher reminds Student regularly of this fact, further reinforcing the fact that it is entirely up to Student to do the work at that level, if Student intends to earn credit for the course. Student assures Teacher that all is well, and that things will get done as they should. Teacher, ceding that Student has the right to make his/her own choices, lets this go, but sends out midterms and warnings to Parents notifying them of the situation. Parents do not reply to these notifications. Teacher moves on to put out other fires.

At the end of the semester, Student is informed that (s)he is likely not to earn credit for the class because work is not up to snuff. Student accepts this, but Parents demand to know how it is that Student came to be in this position. Parents contact Administrator, imagining that there must be present some manner of professional negligence on the part of Teacher for such an injustice to have occurred. Teacher must review with Parents and Administrator all the notifications, explain that Student is perfectly aware of the situation and why (s)he is in this rock/hard place. Teacher then waits for Parents to come to the realization that it is, in fact, Student who has caused this situation to come to pass. Teacher hopes that Parents also agree that it is Student who must, therefore, accept responsibility for it.

This is, of course, pure utopian fantasy. Parents will not sit idly by and let Student take the consequences for his/her choices. Parents will create as much noise as possible about this wrong being perpetrated on their child. They will lament that someone has let Student down, and that it is someone’s job (purportedly Teacher’s) to prevent this from happening in the first place. Teacher will politely, tactfully and diplomatically disagree but, in the interest of keeping the peace (and being allowed to attend to the rest of his students), Teacher will agree to a carefully monitored extension, allowing Student to complete the work.

Teacher is really tired of playing this game and would appreciate it if Parents would either take more or less interest in their children’s education. Teacher acknowledges that there are a great many incompetent members of his profession earning paychecks in his field, but would like to make clear that he is not one of these. He further wishes that Parents would recognize where the responsibility for Student’s education rests in school—with Student. “Teachers can teach all day,” he says patiently each time, “but learning comes from the students.” He hopes to spread this gospel to the ends of the universe someday, but for now, Teacher just wants to go correct Papers.

1 comment:

mrschili said...

Amen, Brother! It's a UNIVERSAL problem, though, so know that you're not suffering alone. Public school, private school, high school, college - every teacher is faced with this. Go here:

for an example of another's suffering with this very dilema.