Monday, December 13, 2004

Can teachers fix parental mistakes?

One of the common laments I have as I work with students at the collegiate level is that it is most difficult via the educational process to fix 18 years of parental mistakes. I have often wanted to talk with parents frankly, but not been willing to enter into any reasonable exchange becuase discourse that might reflecte negatively on their (parental) own faults was like running behind an ambulance chasing lawyer and smaking him/her for our litigeous society. In the end, all it would get you is grief, and perhaps, slapped back with your very own lawsuit.

To answer my titular question, I would say, sometimes, but mostly no. Nor is it the mission of the schools to act in loco parentis.

Mitch Albom's puts it plainly on page 104 of his novella, the five people you meet in heaven:

"ALL PARENTS DAMAGE their children. It cannot be helped. Youth, like pristine glass, absorbs the prints of its handlers. Some parents smudge, others crack, a few shatter childhoods completely into jagged little pieces, beyond repair."

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