Saturday, March 17, 2007
Education and Stunted Emotional Growth
<span >It isn't often that I find myself at a loss for words. But this is one of those times. I have been teaching for awhile now off and on. And while the burden of education sometimes gets to me, overall it's been a good experience. In short, I can handle the stress. So imagine my surprise when I return to school after a two day planned absence, and find frantic emails from a parent because I moved her son away from his best friend. I could understand if I was abusive or even mildly sarcastic, but I wasn't even in the room. I choose to periodically move students for two reasons, it breaks up cliques and it helps kids learn to accept others outside their comfort zone. I find that if I leave the same kids together for the entire term, their work suffers. In this kids case, he's a typical freshman. Goofy, inattentive, male-normal behavior includes talking, flirting, throwing stuff and generally playing around rather than working. To avoid the plummeting of his grade, I moved him from the back of the room to the front of the room. Immediately his mother emails me frantic to know WHY OH WHY did I move her son? WHY OH WHY didn't I contact her first? First of all, I have the absolute right to place kids where they need to be. This may mean at the front, in a desk rather than a table or even out in the hall if they are disruptive. But instead of accepting that her kid was throwing paper airplanes and generally doing everything but work, she wants a full blown meeting with counselors and principals and the like. I suppose I could understand if the kid was failing, or even if he had been sent to the office, but neither of these events have occurred. So instead of taking care of work during my planning period Monday, I will be spending time listening to some overwrought mother whine because little Boopsie isn't seated next to his friends. I wish I could simply say "tough sh*t" but my professionalism prevents it. I don't know where in the Constitution it says that this generation is supposed to be protected not only from harm, but from disappointment, but it seems as if there are two groups of parents working in the system today: Those that don't care, and those that care to the point of impairing their own childrens' growth. I swear that if they could the former would ship kids to camp for 18 years and the latter would put them in a box surrounded by cotton batting and bubble wrap. If you don't let your child learn to make decisions, and make the child live with the consequences of those decisions, then you end up with college students that do stupid, self-destructive things like binge drinking and running up thousands of dollars in debt on credit cards. Those parents who make every step a safe one and every negative situation a happy ending are setting their children up for a life filled with disappointment. In the real world, bad things happen. It's unfortunate and sad, but if you spend your time dwelling on the negative, you never grow up and make it to the positive aspect of this thing we call life. Parents, allow your kids to grow up. And teachers, don't let parents bully you into making school work, homework or tests any easier than they should be.