Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Snowflake Syndrome

I know that many of my colleagues and readers have had (or currently have) the problem of parents who are, shall we say, too involved in the education of their children, and by this mean involved to the actual detriment of their children. I have not faced this problem to a great degree until this academic year, but I thought I would share a few anecdotes on what seems to be becoming a bigger and bigger issue in education.

One of my darlings recently gave a substitute teacher quite the hard time when I was out for some professional development. I try to be the kind of teacher who shows subs support and appreciation, so when I reported this incident to Little Darling's mother, she explained that her child is the kind of child who needs to "express himself" and "explain himself" frequently. I, as his teacher, do not give him this opportunity frequently enough.

"Well," I said to Little Darling's mother, "you're right. When he is not doing what he is supposed to be doing, I don't really want an explanation or an 'expression' or an excuse. I want him to stop doing the wrong thing and start doing the right thing." This, apparently, is quite the imposition on Little Darling's "self-expression."

Another parent complained that I gave her snowflake a zero for a homework assignment that a.) I didn't give Snowflake a zero on and b.) was not done properly and therefore received only partial credit. Snowflake neglected to explain either of these things to her mother despite the fact that I had explained both of these things to Snowflake when I checked her homework.

Yet another parent was displeased that Precious did not receive credit for a homework assignment that she didn't put her name on. Precious is in MIDDLE SCHOOL, mind you. I think that middle school is a good time to expect children to be able to write their names on things, and also to learn that they are about to go to high school where most teachers teach 100+ children and don't have the time or the inclination for handwriting analysis.

Perhaps I'm dating myself, but when I was not doing what I was supposed to be doing at school, I got in trouble. Never once would my parents have suggested that the teacher was somehow in the wrong or a poor teacher. It was my job to get along with the teacher and please him/her, not the other way around. And, looking back on my education, I can see that my parents were right. Maybe once was the teacher truly not very good. Most of the time, I was simply being inattentive or lazy, or, later in life, I had simply reached the end of my intellectual capacity for a subject (by this I mean math).

And misbehavior? Forget it. That was on me. My parents would have laughed loud and long if I claimed that a teacher wasn't allowing me to "express myself." They would have invited me to express myself to my heart's desire in my bedroom, away from the ears of any adult who would have to be subjected to my whining.

At least these little snowflakes' parents are involved in their education, I suppose.
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