Lesson #20 : The entitled student — Part I — Student Gall
Those of you familiar with my daily JuicyLessons know that I taught high school for thirty-four years in both the public and private sectors. In that time I have seen entitled students play the system and, as a result fail to learn not only their lessons of substance but also those pertaining to life in general such as acquiring the experience necessary so that they are able to take responsibility both for their actions and for the consequences – both imposed and otherwise – of those actions. In some cases they are enabled by parental interference in matters of discipline while in others their sense of privilege stems from their own bold and impudent behaviour, and by the reality that the power structure feeds into this ‘entitled’ behaviour.
I would like to deal with the latter situation first. While teaching at a public high school on a five month contract replacing a teacher on maternity leave, I was privy to the following exchange between a vice principal, supposedly in charge of discipline (what a joke as there was a distinct lack of discipline in that school, at least while I was there) and a sec. 5 student who happened to be in one of the economics classes I was trying to teach in that school. I knew this student to some degree, enough to understand that he was relatively intelligent but very lazy, leading to his performing in our class at a level well below his capacity.
Anyway, this kid had received a detention due to the fact that his pants colour contravened the dress code in force at that school. His argument: his pants had been black but constant washing had turned them to grey, and guess what – the vice-principal bought this argument hook line and sinker! He took this student’s detention slip and ripped it in half. When the student then turned to me with a smirk on his face, an expression that said ‘see what I can do when I argue’, I simply stated, in the presence of that useless administrator, something to the effect that he should wipe that smirk off his face and that if it was up to me, he would have been heading to the detention room after school instead of home or elsewhere. When the student split, I turned my attention to the administrator and told him – remember that it was my last day at that school, and that I had already landed another job – in no uncertain terms, that he had just undermined the authority of not only the teacher who had issued that particular detention but by extension, of the teaching staff as a whole as a result of this student’s gall and the V.P.’s propensity to “cave” in the face of it. I believed this due to the fact that this student, and others who had manipulated their way out of detentions, etc., would be disinclined to keep what had happened to themselves for a couple of reasons, not the least of which would be to boast to their peers – guess what happened…blah, blah, blah; hence other students might decide that bucking the system was easier than they had thought, knowing full well that the administrator in question was a soft touch, and that detentions and the like could and would be countered by appealing to this vice-principal who was obviously more interested in protecting his own ass than he was in imposing discipline on students who both deserved and needed it.
Bottom line: entitled student gets out of serving a detention, an important teaching moment is forfeited and, finally, the student suffers in the long run by remaining a huge baby – for a little longer, anyway, or maybe, forever.
Tomorrow: The entitled student — Part II — Parents