Friday, March 25, 2011

Hard Lessons

I'd like to think that the lessons learned in a class have to do with the subject in the class.  That would make sense, wouldn't it?  Unfortunately, one of my kids is learning the lesson that life isn't always fair, that adults sometimes don't act like adults, and that teachers sometimes aren't focused on students learning.

I've commended teachers for being extra hard on my kids when it was obvious that they were either not doing their best or the work was clearly incorrect. Because you see, I actually want my kids to learn about the subject which I pay the teacher to teach. Furthermore, I expect them to earn their grades.  I try to instill in them that their grade is a reflection of their effort, hard work, and material learned. 

However, how do you explain to a hard-working student a teacher that won't give points for a correctly answered exam question, simply because the student, after pointing out the grading error and the instructor agreeing in class, didn't follow up with an email immediately after class (but did before the next class)? Or, when the student then notifies (immediately this time!) the instructor of another set of points clearly deducted in error on another assignment, only to be told that yes, it was an error, but upon looking at the assignment again, points were now being deducted in a different area for being "inadequate."  When the student then asked the instructor to clarify because the student had never had points taken off for the said infraction in nearly four years of the exact same assignment with this teacher, the student was then told that she was lucky it was never "caught" before now and that is that. I'm sorry, wouldn't that be the teaching that was "inadequate" then, not the student's assignment?

Unfortunately, these aren't isolated incidences of a bad teaching attitude, one that is focused on the instructor being "right", no matter what, as one of authority and power. It hasn't just been about being right either, but a complete lack of encouraging.  One time, my student contact the teacher with two research topics, and inquired about which would lend itself to a better topic for a scientific research paper contest outside of class that she was self-motivated to do.  The reply?  "I have no time." No time to answer "a" or "b" on his opinion, an opinion sought out by a curious and motivated student.  Plenty of time to let the student know that he had no interest in true learning. Shouldn't one share knowledge with the intent of inspiring others to learn and dig deeper, rather than just expecting your listeners to never think, methodically spit out information, and never question anything?  Shouldn't any inkling of desire to learn more be fostered? Otherwise, not only is learning lost, but a passion for learning is completely squashed.

Despite having proven herself with maintaining a solid A for over three years in this instructor's classes and having shown great interest in the topic (until now, that is...SQUASH), what is being learned this year is some very hard lessons about people.  It was bound to happen sooner or later, but it wasn't the course for which I registered her. Unfortunately, she doesn't get a grade for these lessons. If she did, assuming fairness in grading, of course, she would get an A+ for what she has learned.


Penny said...

I hate lessons like that. :( I hate it for my kids even more.

Heidi said...

Yes, Penny, it is hard enough for an adult. It makes it even harder when it is an adult/child exchange.

Sheri said...

ouch. That is not a good sitzie. But a valuable lesson none the less. Just tough when it's your child and you know the adult is clearly in the wrong on most points. Ugh

Jennifer said...

One of my Dad's frequent sayings is "life is not fair." My sisters and I joke about how much we heard that as children, it was his almost automatic response if we complained "not fair." We do want things to be fair for our children, though. This does sound like a hard lesson.