Thursday, July 16, 2009

Free Thinkers, Self Reliance or Robots? What's your kid?


The other day my son’s science teacher called me to say that he would not be able to take the state exam because he did not complete his labs. The exam was scheduled for the next day. We got into a discussion about the requirements of the class, the assignment schedules and lab requirements. This discussion went on for about 3 or more minutes. Granted about 3 weeks earlier, I received a letter from the Lab Teacher informing me that he was missing several lab assignments and need to complete them before the end of the term. I shared the letter with my son and directed him to follow through with the teacher. I spoke to my son a few days later and he said he contacted the teacher and did the work. I bought it.

My question to the Science Teacher was this; why are you telling me this now, at this time of the day, after school hours, given the schedule of the test. I think that my question rattled her because she thought she was doing a good deed, and she was. You could hear her shuffle on the phone. I told her that we got the notice earlier and he went in and completed the labs. Well, talk to the Lab Teacher, she said, because this is what he told me today. She promptly passed along his name and contact information on to me and ended the call.

If this information was to inform an action, what could be done at the 11th hour? Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the heads up. The issue is this, why wasn’t this call made sooner so that corrective action could be taken or at least put everyone on the same page. Isn’t this the purpose of the phone call? I was grilling the boy to prepare for the exam believing that he satisfied all of the requirements. Ultimately this is the boy’s responsibility to follow through but since this is a partnership between, teacher, student, parent, why not give information so that something can be done about it, timely.

Maybe I didn’t ask him the right questions earlier when we talked about making up the labs. Was he relying on someone to raise the alarm or did he believe that he was getting a break by doing only the labs that the teacher provided?

I was visiting one of my favorite blogs, Breaking Mindset, the other day and read a post there that reminded me of this situation. The piece entitled, Should we do our part was posted on 6/14. The post was a commentary on the reliance on divine being to intervene and help to resolve problems. The writer contends that some folks rely on divine intervention as security and partially rely on duty and responsibility for themselves. She asked the question, divine reliance or self reliance, where should one stand. She asserts that free thinkers do not rely on a divine being to make things happen for them but on a sense of duty and responsibility. She wrote that our reliance on others has led us to the mess we have in the world today. Accordingly, she states, this reliance on the external is an unfortunate habit because divine reliance makes us robots.

I thought about this post and my situation here. This boy waited until the teacher reached out to say something before he did what he had to do. In speaking to him again about the matter, he knew that he was still missing work even after the make up attempt. In fact he said when he tried to ask The Lab teacher about the other lab assignments but he dismissed him. So despite knowing that he was missing some work he relied on the actions of the Lab Teacher and was satisfied with his response, or thought that he got a break (divine intervention). He further relied on me to ask the questions and push him along. Well it is my responsibility as a parent, to push him along but he didn’t take responsibility to satisfy the requirements. Did we create a robot here? Did he rely on us to 'tell him' what to do and did just that?

So here’s the question; do we create robots when we ‘micro-manage’ our kids, well some kids. Is self reliance or duty to self determine our level of development and success or achievements? An interesting paradox! Sorry no solutions here. I don’t think that we rely solely on divine intervention, even the most pious, but we have faith and hope that if we summon the help, internal and external, it will get us through. And hey, the more the merrier! No doubt there are folks who rely heavily on the Gods and maybe that works for them. Maybe to each his/her own.

I think the teacher attempted, to reach out to me to kick the boy in the pants to be responsible and to take conscious action in his personal development. So its the external coupled with duty and responsiblity. - so no independent thinker here?

My lovely boy is attending summer school as a result of his failure to follow through – self reliance and duty. He has to bear the consequences for his action or inaction in this case. Maybe next year he will accept and behave responsibly to his school and personal needs and requirements.

Thanks Miss Science Teacher and Mr. Lab teacher for your assistance, support and cooperation.
C’mon kid, get with the program!

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