Mrs. Flinger: A work in progress

UPDATE TO Mrs. Flinger October 16, 2015

Because the Universe has a wicked sense of humor, after this delcaration, my blog threw up all over my last upgrade.

So I'm starting over using Craft. Turning 40 and kid entering Jr High next year, sometimes it's just time for a change. These archives will still exist in the way the last child goes off to college and their room is the same for 20 years, but it's just time to move forward.

controversy Apr 02, 2007

#Rants and Raves#Working Mom

Yesterday, while reading the Sunday paper, I came across this article from the Local section.

Mr. Flinger and I often discuss deep matters such as politics, religion, education. In our youth we disagreed fiercely, but time has eroded our notions and brought us to a place where heated discussion is no longer debate, but rather heated agreement.  I read bits and pieces from the article, turned to Mr. Flinger and said, “Read this,” knowing he would form an opinion similar to my gut reaction and possibly talk me down off some limb I immediately climbed on to.

As a teacher at the college level, I strive for fairness and high standards in education. As a mother, I strive for discipline and independence for my child. As a woman, I strive for equality. As a nerd, I strive for knowledge. As an individual, I strive for respecting other’s opinions. As a pregnant, hormonal, very tired college teacher, I lost my patience with all things above and went tyrant on the article.

The most difficult task during my years of instruction is to teach students the discipline of handing in quality work on time. Having taught a variety of students from traditional college freshmen fresh off the high school wagon, traditional seniors about to graduate, adult education students changing careers, minority students in programs for the less privileged, and career-oriented students working during the day and seeking a better job, I understand the variation of backgrounds that enter the college class. I’m all for variety and those wanting to pursue higher education in whatever form they choose. Education happens to be a passion of mine and while it’s not everyone’s favorite activity or ideal, I hold high standards in my classroom and expect students to meet the goals set out for them. I expect students to participate.  I expect students to get the most out of the course. I expect them to read their assignments, complete homework, ask questions and leave with a higher understanding of the topic.

Apparently, I expect a lot.

I’ve noticed a decline in student’s respect for The Homework. I talk to coworkers who notice students unwilling to try the assignment before claiming it’s too difficult and throwing in the towel. I watch students start an assignment the night it’s due, never reading the lectures or attending class and watch them get completely pissed and frustrated when they don’t understand the work. I am fair and hard and patient as a cow if students are willing to work and give a little effort. But I am not willing to do the work for them. I am not willing to cast aside deadlines. I am not willing to give everyone the “exception” and allow them to pass without some effort. This decline in effort, it seems, is linked to a mindset I’m finding more and more prevalent. I find it on the playground. I find it in WalMart. And now I find an entire school devoted to it.

I guess I’m interested in your perspective. On one hand, I do not want to impose my traditional education style on others. But on the other hand, I am afraid this child-centered philosophy is getting out of hand. If my child wants to eat ice cream every meal of the day, I say no. If she wants to stay up until midnight, I say no. If she wants to to hit or not share or throw or bite, I say no, that’s not ok. If she wants to run amok at the store, I tell her that’s not how we act in public. I don’t feel like I’m squishing her independence. I hope I’m cultivating a child who can think on her own. But right now, it’s my job to be sure she gets what she needs.

I carry this same attitude in to my classroom with one major change: It is your decision to put in to the class what you will get out of it. I’m here to cultivate, help expand, and deepen your knowledge but you have to make the effort, you have to meet the deadlines, you have to show up and work. I don’t expect anything an employer wouldn’t. And really? Isn’t that the ultimate goal?