Skip to content

All They Need is a Miracle

I was warned that some people have unrealistic expectations of teachers, but I wasn’t given all the specifics.

Parents’ unrealistic expectations usually involve better grades. Some of them take the genius of their children on faith and can’t understand why little Billy doesn’t get straight A’s. Some of them have been ruined by a generation or more of educational theory that suggests “getting the idea” is more important than getting the right answer—true in a way, but easily misunderstood—or that we should award A’s for effort alone. Even if the homework is regularly only half done. (“But little Billy really tried!”) Some think that learning happens only in class, and either can’t or won’t provide a safe, quiet study environment. (The cases of can’t can be heartbreaking.) Some think that teaching is easy, and if little Billy refuses to do his homework and refuses to study for tests and refuses to come in for tutoring that we can simply beam understanding into Billy’s head with good intentions. All this I was warned of.

Students’ unrealistic expectations, by contrast, usually involve less work or, ideally, no work at all. I was warned of this as well, and cautioned to consider complaints of excessive work load fairly, but not to take them at face value.

I didn’t get warned of the end-of-term crunch in which kids who have blown off their lessons all semester suddenly realize they’re not going to get the grade they want, or expect, or in some cases need—for a scholarship, to avoid parental wrath, or simply to graduate. And suddenly, they begin showing up at the teacher’s lounge door hoping that one hour of individual attention is miraculously going to sweep aside four months’ willful ignorance.

It won’t. Especially not when that “individual attention” is being spread among six different kids, from three different classes, with the same expectations of a miracle.

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *