04 March 2006

Learning in school

It's all really too much at times. I received exams from a student after I'd assumed she'd left the university. I emailed her to ask if she wanted to come in and talk about what's going on now that we're 18 weeks into her first year. She came in this week and explained that "problems at home" have been impacting her studies. As a teacher, I hear this all the time, and usually I believe it's a lame excuse. In her case, I think there are real problems.
Her parents are seriously conservative Christians who have disallowed her to choose her own friends. Thus, she lacks the skills necessary to make friends; this is something that would have been handy at the university. Additionally, a close relative has been, well, lets say, behaving inappropriately toward her. That's a kind euphemism for what has been going on for several years. When she finally told her mom, mom argued that it must be the daughters fault, and that said daughter needed to pray for God's forgiveness. In the mean time, this relative is still invited to all family functions. Way to go mom!
Shall I go on with the mothers mistakes? She choose this students major (business) despite the students dislike of the subject. Mom wants the student to make money. As if that's all that matters. Here is the one thing that is painfully common with students who are the first in their families to attend college. Just when midterms began last quarter, mom called daughter home to work. This student argued that she couldn't just drive home and work since she needed time to write her papers. Mom said, "That's fine, you can work on your papers on your ten minute breaks." Only, mom wasn't kidding. Eventually, most parents who send their kids to college try to undermine their own children. I don't know if this is intentional or not, but it seems to happen most of the time, thus putting these kids in an awful position to choose between education and family. Why should kids have to make such a choice?
I fear that in order to stay she will have to lie to her parents, or cut herself off from them and pay on her own. There are plenty of kids here who are truly stupid and/or don't deserve to be here, but this student is an exception. My job is easy when all I have to do is yell at them to read and write. I wish that life could really be like Dr. Phil. You know, the student would come in and agree to counseling and working at being at school. I would call her mother and briefly explain the situation, and her mother would have an epiphany and allow her daughter to finally and peacefully pursue her education.


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