Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Parent's Just Don't Understand

I wish I was writing about something more humorous and referring to Fresh Prince and DJ Jazzy Jeff’s rap – but unfortunately, that’s not the case.

It’s the end of the semester and once again, the parents are on the prowl.

When I got to work last Monday, I was just about to turn the corner when I noticed a man pacing in front of my office. At that moment, H (our department secretary) caught my attention and signaled me to come to her office. She whispered that it was the father of one of my students who wanted to talk to me about his daughter’s grades. I was a bit surprised as I knew she had done well in my class. I didn’t think it would be a problem, so I went ahead and spoke to him. Our meeting went well, and that was the end of it … or so I thought.

He showed up again … and again … and again. First talking to me, then talking to our director, then talking to me again … and then talking to one of my colleagues! Now, seeing this man’s desperation about his daughter’s grade you’d think she did really poorly – but no. She got an A-. She needed another 1.5% to get an A and her father couldn’t stand it. He was one of those creepy parents who smiles and pretends that they appreciate your efforts as a teacher and claim that they are not asking for points … “but if you could just do something to help my daughter, I’d really appreciate it.”

I’m sorry. I must speak a different language from you because in my world – that statement = begging for points.

I’m amazed. Every semester I think it won’t surprise me, but it does. The number of parents who come in and insist on their child being GIVEN points so that they can get the grade they want. “Just give my son/daughter two more points.” “Just pass my child.” “Just help us out.”

It’s driving me insane. I just want to scream – Just F off!

Having parents come in is not easy to deal with, but what’s worse is when they have people they know call in favors. Over the past few years I’ve had random strangers call me up and tell me that they work in the university and that their friend’s son/daughter was in my class and needs a few extra points to get to the next letter grade – so if I could just help them out. All I can think in these situations is – who the *uck do you think you are? Why are you calling me? Why should I help you?!

I have always told my students that I would discuss their grades with them (at the appropriate time – not after the final grades have been posted). They know that I have no problem going through their work and even giving points in places where I’ve made an error. I’ve also told my students that the grade they get is the grade they earn. While there are some students who are a bit of a pain, it’s the parents and their righteous attitude that drives me crazy. They’re the ones who need a lesson in ethics and politeness.


Anonymous said...

I used to think that this only happened in the Middle East, but I've seen it happen in Germany, and in the US, too. What are parents thinking? How can they not know that interfering sends the message that the kids are not capable of handling their own problems? Or that daddy or mommy will always be there to help them get a grade or something they did not earn? It dis-incentivizes the student. (Sorry, I know there is no such word as dis-incentivize)

PlumPetals said...

I'm glad you mentioned that this trend is not something that happens only in the Middle East. I have a friends who work at universities in the US and they've had this happen to them as well.

I've often found that the students actually accept the grade they have earned - they understand why they got the grade they got. However, it's the parents who don't seem to believe that their child is 'capable' of earning anything less than an A.