Thomasville Times Enterprise

Opinion

March 25, 2014

Some parents do disservice to their children

It’s rare that I get a real burr under my saddle anymore. Too many cutting rants over the years have built up quite a bit of thick skin, so those burrs that might’ve really got to me a few years back go mostly unnoticed these days.

However, y’all will have to forgive me today as I vent a little.

I won’t get too specific, but to give you a general overview, I have had students in my classes over the years who simply refuse to do their work. They will act like they are doing stuff all day long, but when it comes time to grade the stuff that they actually needed to be doing is nowhere to be found.

There is always an excuse. I forgot this. I left it at home. I ran out of time. My computer broke. The dog ate it. Etc., etc., blah blah blah.

So, given the fact that I am not Santa Claus and don’t give gift-wrapped grades as presents, these students failed my class for the year.

That should be disappointment enough. After all, at Thomas County Central, the broadcasting department I direct is pretty widely regarded as the top program of its kind pretty much anywhere. That might sound like bragging, but it ain’t bragging if you can back it up, and we can.

Charlie Ward Jr. visited last week. After walking around and checking everything out, he looked and me wide eyed and said, “Since when did high schools start getting this kind of thing?”

My answer was quick, “They don’t, but ours did.”

So, yes, a young person simply wasting the opportunity to be a part of something as unique and special as our department is disappointing enough. You would think that of all the people in the equation (outside of me, who views it with a combination of puzzlement and disbelief, like “what in the WORLD could you be thinking?”) that would be most disappointed it would be the parents of the young people in question.

And you would be wrong.

In fact, too often, the parents of the young people in question make it very clear that the main reason their children failed my class had little to do with the fact that they weren’t doing their work. Nope, according to the parents, it was because their teacher (me) didn’t “like” their kid.

Let’s address something right here and now. While I don’t doubt personality conflicts occur between teachers and their students no less than it happens anywhere else in a world where people work together, attributing a child failing a class to a teacher not “liking” that child is about the lamest excuse on the planet.

Teachers don’t have time to “not like” a student. I know I don’t. I’ve got 140-plus teenagers coming through my room every single day. You think I actually have time or energy to expend “not liking” anyone?

My name gets called at least 100 times a day. Honestly, there are some days I feel like I barely get to come up for air, like the days where school gets over and I figure out that I feel kind of uncomfortable — only to realize that I never ate lunch or went to the bathroom through the day.

Trust me. Liking or not liking never crosses my mind.

Furthermore, I have yet to meet a teacher who sees a student actually busting their butts who has failed them. It just doesn’t work that way. In other words, in many cases good, old-fashioned, consistent effort can go a long way toward overcoming grade deficiencies.

Parents, you are doing your children a gross disservice by taking the blame for their failure off of them. While I nor any other teacher “wants” to give a student a failing grade, the real hope is that their failure will motivate them to avoid the experience when it really counts — like in a real job.

The fact of the matter is we’ve removed much of the pain associated with failure from the equation. Too many kids today know they don’t have to do much of anything and someone somewhere will take care of things for them.

Just look at society as a whole and tell me where I am wrong.

That dangerous mindset won’t change as long as the adults in these kids’ lives coddle them into believing that their success or failure isn’t their responsibility. The reality that stands to bite your children squarely in the buttocks when they step out into the real world is going to be a painful thing for you to watch when it happens and, sadly, they will not in any way be prepared to successfully deal with it because you enabled their sense of entitlement.

People aren’t born winners or losers, but they are born choosers. If a young person chooses to goof off and do nothing, they should feel the repercussions and be accountable for that choice — especially from you.

If you are a parent and you choose to shuck the blame for those choices on everyone except your child you are choosing to be a part of the problem, not a part of the solution. In other words, if your child is bombing out in school and you simply cannot figure out why, might be time to find the nearest mirror.

The choice is yours.

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