Monday, April 27, 2015

"Heaven Help Us." From Dr. Amelia.

So Dr. Amelia, being a generally genial and civic minded sort, volunteered for a committee at her progeny's high school and went to the first meeting of that committee this weekend. It's a committee of mostly parents, but also supports the H.S. hamster fur weaving committee, so several of the teachers in the Hamsterology program were there as well.

When the business of the committee was concluded, there was a lengthy period of parent, um, how to put this, ... bitching about the school's EduSpy software. In this software, teachers can keep an online grade book and students can see how they are doing, etc. Apparently, every. single. one. of the parents there checks this resource on behalf of their students daily.

I know this, because of statements like "It's so frustrating, because it only covers what has happened, not what's going to happen. So how do I know what my kid has due in a few weeks?"

Dr. Ameila, being a generally genial sort, kept her big mouth shut, all the while thinking "Didn't you already go to high school? Isn't this your kid's homework, not yours?"

I had to come home and give the progeny a hug. She's not the best student, but at least she manages her own stuff.

Oh my.

16 comments:

  1. As a physicist, I hate being requested to invent a time machine. If I could do it, I for dang sure wouldn't share it with people this dumb.

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  3. Dr. A, "managing her own stuff" probably makes her a better student and an even better adult. Congrats.

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    1. Amen to this. She might end up in a one-tier-less-selective college than she would otherwise (or a smart admissions officer might realize she wrote her college essay herself, extrapolate correctly from there, and decide this is a student they want), but/and she'll get more out of it than many of her peers get out of more-selective places, and she'll cope better with life in the long run. You also have some hope of her being genuinely helpful to you in your old age when/if you need such help (I do wonder what's going to happen when the helicopter generation needs that sort of help. Some kids will undoubtedly step up and return attentive care for attentive care, but others will undoubtedly be indignant when parents finally abandon their customary support role, and unwilling to switch positions).

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  4. I bet a lot of these parents pretty much already do their children's homework as well.

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  5. I'm in a constant battle with my own spouse about these sorts of matters. Based on what I've seen, with students with A/A+ averages from high school coming to university and not being able to fart their way out of a wet paper bag, I've resolved to take a firm hands-off approach to my kids' homework, and school work in general, beyond taking away various electronic goodies and privileges when they come home with bad grades for incomplete and unsubmitted work after constantly saying "No, I don't have any homework at all". My spouse's efforts amount to doing our kids' homework for them, which frustrates me to no end. Large projects are the biggest bone of contention. I've provided my kid with cardboard, string, washers, nuts, bolts, scrap lumber, nails, various tools etc, and let him have at it for building some sort of crane, and then gone to school and seen kids with projects that involved a pulley system involving a dismantled, repurposed rod and reel fused to an electric motor. No fucking way a 9 year old designed that by themselves. I think my kid was the only one with a crane that a parent didn't spend a week designing and building. Someone in one of our kid's class recently went all the way to regionals for some pop culture project they produced, and, knowing the mom quite well, I know that the project was all the mom's work (no 11 year-old who otherwise listens to Sia willingly focuses a project around A Flock of Seagulls, Duran Duran, and Spandau Ballet). My spouse was like "Why can't our kids apply themselves and go to regionals?", but with an attitude that conveyed that somehow I was to blame for our kids' lack of shining in the academic spotlight, to which I replied (in what I admit was not a pleasant, cordial tone) "Yeah! Why can't I pick up the slack and be a fucking helicopter parent that does our kids' shit for them? What kind of awful parent am I?" Then I walked away to find something else to do. It is an old argument. It won't be the last time we argue about this.

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    1. By the age of 9 I was pulling stuff out of dumpsters and "repurposing" them. It all started by having been provided with cardboard, string, washers, nuts, bolts, scrap lumber, nails, various tools, etc., and being allowed to have at it for building all sorts of whatever. Mistakes were made, and stuff was learned in the process.

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  6. Prof. Poopiehead, I am in your corner. My kids were the only ones whose California Mission construction projects used old cereal boxes and paint instead of manufactured miniature trees and tiled roofs. They were fine. They were charming. They didn't cost $35 in supplies.

    And your attitude about their grades is exactly the same as mine (hands off until bad grades for unsubmitted work, etc.). The big difference is that I don't have to fight hubby about it because he just doesn't get involved much in their lives (older generation). Our decades-long argument involves him not seeing the point of Back-to-School Night.

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  7. Dr. A, from the scuttlebutt at your daughter's school, does the parental help also apply to ghost-writing college applications?

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  8. Other evidence of this trend, courtesy of a friend who is a boy scout leader: very few cub scouts build or even decorate their own soapbox derby cars anymore.

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    1. My son's scout troop gives out an "Most obviously decorated by a scout" award as part of their Soapbox Derby events.

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  9. Has anybody considered that if so many students dared to answer so rudely, maybe they had a reason? If the professor happened to be right, or perfectly within his rights, in many or all of his unpleasant interactions with the students, maybe the issue is not what he said as much as how he said it.

    I'm not arguing that the professor was necessarily wrong to say something to them or to make certain decisions. Maybe that was not the problem. But when a student has the guts to say "get out of my space", maybe the professor is within what is normally an individual's personal space or has a physically threatening posture.

    I realize that the personal space varies and that a "physically threatening posture" is a matter of interpretation, as it is unlikely that a professor would threaten to punch a student, for example. It could be at the level of subtle body language.

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    1. I think you must be thinking of a different situation. We're talking about high schoolers doing their own homework here, and other relevancies.

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    2. I've had enough interactions with students to know full well that they can be very rude mofos without any provocation on my part, usually when they aren't getting the mark that they think they "Deserve".

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  10. Sprogette Hep's high school had a parent portal, which we sometimes jokingly called The Heliport. Spouse Hep and I were in pretty good agreement on the best use of this resource. We went as far as helping Sprogrette set a study schedule one time early on, then just let it happen from there; fortunately for us, she was self-motivated. We peeked in on the portal periodically to look for signs of things slipping outside reasonable statistical variation, in case it was manifestation of drug use, depression, bullying, or who knows what that merited our intervention. Only once did we see something outside the comfort zone, and it went something like this at dinner:

    Spouse: How was your day?

    Sprogette: Fine.

    Me: Classes good?

    Sprogette: Yup.

    Spouse: So nothing giving you more trouble than usual?

    Sprogette: OK. Yeah. I didn't do as well as I wanted on the geometry test.

    Spouse: Do you have any idea why that happened?

    Sprogette: Offhand I'd say I didn't understand it as well as I thought.

    Me: Have you...

    Sprogette: Met with the teacher? No.

    Me: Well, maybe you...

    Sprogette: Dad. Mom. I got this.

    Me: OK.

    Spouse: Rena's mom has a new job, right? How's that been working out?

    As we would discover from her next test score, she still didn't "got this". Then she actually made her own appointment with her geometry teacher and straightened it out. The cost was a substantially less-than-perfect grade for that marking period, but a fair trade for the lesson learned, and I seriously doubt it hurt her one bit during college application season three years later. Better to learn to ride with the training wheels off earlier when the stakes are lower.

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