I predict that several students will come to class the NEXT week, and be all astounded and sputtery that the semester is over and the lab is empty and they can’t take the final. But then, most of this kind of student didn’t even know when the final WAS, or what it was about. Tuition was paid, by somebody, but the student seldom showed up and is still enrolled, which means he/she will get an F on the transcript. It happens every semester, and it’s scary. For the nation, I mean. SCARY. (Did I mention that each student has four opportunities to take the final exam?)
Sometimes, even at this level, a parent will call me at home to tell me why Junior was absent and to tell me that he’ll be at the college on such and such a day to take the final which I will please hand-deliver to him at his convenience and monitor (without pay) the three hours he’ll need to take it. To which I reply that I am not permitted by law to even acknowledge that I’ve ever heard of Junior and there is no way I would ever tell someone over the phone who is and who isn’t in my classes. Then the parent will get all huffy and imperious and say something about paying Junior’s tuition, blah blah blah, and I’ll start to snicker silently on my end, because after all those years of having administration force me to kowtow and give in to this kind of parent, I am finally allowed to be sensible and professional about it, and simply hang up on anyone who raises his/her voice to me. If the parent tries to go over my head, it won’t work. At least, it hasn’t yet. My department head is awesome. (Thank you, Carol. You rock.) Helicopter parents are a pathetic joke at any level, but if this attitude extends into a kid’s college years, heaven help the universe!
I am giving exams at three different campuses next week, and I’d bet money, if I had any, that I can tell you exactly which students will be there, pencils sharpened, alert, and ready to take that test, and who won’t be. And who will be there, but will have to borrow something to write with because he/she “forgot.” Again.
Have work ethics changed much? Darn right they have. And not for the better, either. Sigh. I’ve had younger students, used to years of community classroom supplies, actually expect to find colored bins of pencils, free for the taking, in a college classroom. (Community classroom supplies are the devil.)
Dear Helicopter Parents of College Students: Your kid is raised. Stop raising him. If he’s still an immature weenie, let life hand him/her some consequences. It’s about time somebody did.
Love, Professor MeaniePants
P.S. Your kid is nineteen years old and still can’t remember to bring a pencil to school. And no, he can’t borrow mine. Suck it up. If he wants a grade on a test, he can go down to the bookstore and invest in a two-dollar collegiate-licensed pencil. Yes, they are too expensive and yes, it’s ridiculous. At Target he can get a whole package for a dollar, but then he’d have to remember to bring one to class. You are not allowing your kid to grow up, and he doesn’t have what it takes to do so himself. This is your fault. Back off. Let him struggle and fail, and then perhaps he will struggle and succeed. No, this is NOT being cruel. Cruelty is keeping your kid a kid too long, and doing all the work for him. Step back and don’t give in when he comes crying to you about how hard life is.
Remember Helen Keller, who had to be removed from her doting parents’ home in order to be educated properly, because her parents were so sorry for her that they gave in to her every whim and turned her into a smelly obnoxious beast who demanded her own way and got it in every situation. Poor little Helen, let her have it; she’s been denied so much! We can’t expect poor little Helen to do anything; she can’t SEE or HEAR. Just let her be. Cater to her every whim. Put up with tantrums, etc., because she’s disabled. Poor, poor little Helen. We can’t expect her to be able to do things other children do. We musn’t require it. Annie removed her from her parents’ home and forced her to live up to her potential. It wasn’t pretty. But it worked.
Annie Sullivan wasn’t sure exactly what would work for Helen, but she knew enough to know that catering to the child’s every whim was definitely the wrong approach. She was willing to try new and different things to try to reach Helen through the silence and darkness, and she knew that sometimes, trial and error ARE the best approach. Helen’s parents knew they were not up to dealing properly with their daughter because nothing they tried, worked; they were too close to the situation and couldn’t bear to see their child unhappy. Mr. and Mrs. Keller gave Annie free reign with Helen, and Annie’s methods worked. Say and think what you will about Annie’s methods; they WORKED. Why can’t modern parents and administrators see it? Nowadays, Annie would be in the Rubber Room and Helen would be a smelly obnoxious adult with no future, no real life, no way of earning her own living, barely “put up with” wherever she was taken, illiterate, unmannerly, with no self control, and with her intellect imprisoned and unused, instead of the successful college graduate, public speaker, writer, and advocate of education and human rights that she was able to become thanks to Annie’s unorthodox but successful methods. (Helen was also on vaudeville, and in a couple of movies. She’s one of my heroes.)
Thank you, my good students, for being what you’ve been all semester. I’m so proud of you. Oh, and don’t sweat the final; it’s nothing but a piece of paper. Do your best with it, but don’t let it boss you around. Each of you is more important than a few pieces of paper. (This batch of students will bring all the proper materials on finals day, do their best, and their best will be great!) I’m not worried about my students this semester; they’ve done well (the ones who come to class, that is) all semester, and they’re going to do well next week, too. They’re awesome, and I’m not wasting that word. Awesome, like a rainbow over the Grand Canyon. I’ll miss them.
The world is a mess, but each of us can, at least, create order in our own homes and lives, and creativity out of chaos, if we work at it. It takes a lot of hard work, I hope y’all realize.
Life is good. Dig it.
And when life isn’t good, dig it anyway. If you keep digging, you’ll strike gold eventually.
Oh, and bring a pencil to class on test day. Them nasty professors will show you no mercy; they can’t, because they have no hearts. Nope.
They have no heart, and they never fart. That’s why they’re so mean all the time.
And now you know.
Word, students: when you think you’re down to nothing, make a vuvuzela with a balloon and a hex nut. You don’t really need a lot of stuff to make a joyful noise. Or to share it with the people in the lab down the hall.