Saturday, January 29, 2011

Tiger teacher

Yeah, yeah, it's a lion, but that's the closest photo I have.

No, I haven't read the book Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother. It sounds interesting, but it's not at the top of the my To Read list. Maybe because I had a Tiger Mother, and so the story would be old news to me.

The commentary surrounding the book is more immediately consuming for me, particularly two quotes from Nancy Gibb's essay in Time.

Their [what Gibbs calls "Choppers" aka helicopter parents] fury at a bad grade is more likely to land on the teacher than on the child.
And this one:
I suspect one reason the book has touched such a nerve is a suspicion among the Choppers that an excessive fear of failure guarantees it - that if you don't let your kids get clobbered now and then by a tough teacher, they'll never have the resilience to thrive as adults in a competitive economy.
These two quotes basically sum up my week. It's the end of the semester, and I gave some low grades to students who can do better than what they got but didn't, because they didn't turn in assignments on time, or showed little-to-no effort, or were just making some jerk wad choices. I clobbered some of my students because I expected better from them.

And the backlash from certain parents towards my choices have been overwhelming. Not just the parent of T, by the way. There are more.

I know I can't give up being a tough teacher. I can't let myself allow students to slack off. I can't slack off myself. It really is a tiger battle with my students. And the path of least resistance is one I don't want to take.

But sometimes, a tiger needs a quiet place sheltered from the battle to lick its wounds.

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