Yesterday’s JuicyLesson (#20) discussed one case of a student being empowered by his own impertinent behaviour coupled with administrative know-towing to it in the face of a potentially unpleasant situation as far as this student was concerned. This “perfect storm” enabled the student to talk his way out of serving a detention, thus contributing to this student – and by extension to others as well – dissing the the school, its rules, and the educators who work there.
Today we will be looking at a different type of empowerment. This kind of enabling goes hand-in-hand with – and usually plays a role in – fostering the type of student behaviour I described in yesterday’s Juicy Lesson … or is it vice versa (a term used by a surprisingly large number of people when they actually mean “conversely”)? Not for the first time do we posit the query about the chicken or the egg coming first. Do parent enablers create conditions ripe for the development of obnoxious behaviour on the part of their children, or does the obnoxious behaviour itself somehow result in parental intervention in support of their sons’ or daughters’ “case” in disputes with their teachers, for instance?
That being said, allow me to tell a little tale of a parent actually lying for his kid to get his son out of serving a detention. I felt that the kid had behaved inappropriately in class and gave him a detention which gave rise to the first lie. This kid, let’s call him Charlie, immediately upon being told that he would have to stay in for a while, literally jumped out of his chair saying something to the effect that he had a social function to attend and therefore could not serve the detention. A little later on, I was informed by one of the school’s vice principals that Charlie’s father, had called the school and said that Charlie had phoned the father and had recounted to his dad what had happened in our class and that Charlie did really have a social function to go to – on a Tuesday, or was it Wednesday? The vice also stated that there was nothing we could do. (I don’t know whether or not we discussed Charlie possibly serving the detention on a different day.)
The bottom line was that the parent and the kid were both lying! God.
I lost respect for both Charlie and his father. (I had Charlie’s sister as a sec. 5 student at one point and didn’t really respect her either. What a group.)
Charlie had acted like a brat and the father had lied to protect and enable his son’s immature, dishonest and totally unacceptable behaviour.
As in Part I, a teaching moment had been lost, and the student had been able to evade the consequences which had been laid down for inappropriate classroom behaviour. Thus this student, like the one in yesterday’s JuicyLesson, had eschewed taking a step forward – a small step but a step in the right direction nonetheless – on the path to his personal growth and development, that being learning to face up to his responsibilities. Alternately he had learned nothing except how to stagnate, and, as a result, remained a big, giant baby for a while longer, if not forever. It is most unfortunate that some people like Charlie never grow up. More unfortunate is the fact that as they age, they surround themselves with people like themselves and thus lose out on the chance to expand their minds.
As my mother, bless her heart, used to say: “You’re only young once but you can be immature forever”.