professornana (professornana) wrote,

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Watch your tone

This posting on Facebook has been making the rounds. A high school posted the sign at the front door telling parents to STOP. If they were bringing a forgotten lunch or homework or other items, they should go back home and let their son (It was an all boys school) suffer the consequences and assume their responsibilities.

Quite a few people had commented that they though this was a great step in making kids more responsible and preventing the helicopter parent syndrome. But this post has bothered me no end. So, this week, I posted my thoughts and feelings:

"There is something here that does not sit well with me as a parent. I know the temptation is to be that helicopter parent/grandparent. However, when I brought something to the school it was to provide something for my child. I would not have appreciated this attitude. Want to build skills? Maybe that would be easier if the child had all she needed (like a lunch?). And maybe that the child would not be penalized for not having something she needs for class. Maybe I am just a cantankerous educator. But the one size fits all policy seems rather heavy-handed."

The discussion that ensued after I posted has been interesting to say the least. I was relieved that I was not the only one who found the tone of the sign off-putting. I should add here that, since my mother worked outside the house, there was no one who could bring me anything I left behind. However, if one of the former residents of the back bedroom left behind something important (and that includes a lunch as I consider eating kind of essential), I would deliver it or BH would. This did not happen often. The residents did not use us as a delivery service. However, I also knew there were some teachers who would exact a huge penalty for a missing worksheet, etc. So, I drive to the school on my way to work. I also took them to school the few times they missed the bus.

Of course, there were folks who disagreed. They cite egregious examples of kids who could not function without mommy or daddy's help. One reported that a parent showed up to serve a child's detention. Those examples don't sway my opinion, though. I am sure there are parents who constantly bail out their kids. Lucky kids.

I did not like the tone of the sign. I did not like the fact that it was some sort of edict to parents. And it was the one-size-fits-all stuff that makes school impersonal and arbitrary. I feel about this the way I do about some cell phone policies. The residents got cell phones as they entered junior high and had after school commitments. I know that they probably used them during school (as did their peers, no excuse), but I baled at teachers who collected them at the classroom door. It was a safety issue for me in that event. What if something happened and the phones were all in a drawer, silent?

Ditto dress code policies that were sexist at best. I was calle done to bring a change of clothes for one of the residents. I had a lengthy discussion with the AP about why and was told the resident had changed after band practice but had done so in the wrong bathroom. Hence, her clothes changes were being confiscated, and I needed to go to the school or have her placed in in-school suspension for the day. I was apoplectic and had to give the phone to BH so I would not become less-than-professional.

Okay, rant over. But I do think the sign is not as "cute" or wonderful as others did. I do not think kids learn responsibility from going without a meal or taking a zero on an assignment. The residents had responsibilities at home. They have grown onto responsible adults. If I bailed them out every once in a while, I'd like to think I was teaching them compassion and empathy and understanding. Those are the important lessons.
Tags: responsibility
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