Tuesday, September 30, 2014
The Rise of the Helicopter Teacher
From the Chronicle of Higher Education
A week before the first paper was due, a young woman in my class raised her hand and asked where the rubric was.
Shamefaced and stuttering, I had to admit that I had no idea what a rubric was. She helpfully explained that this was a set of guidelines explaining what I expected them to write, how I expected them to write it, and how each aspect of the paper would be evaluated. A set of boxes that students could check off to guarantee that they had met my expectations. For all intents and purposes, in other words, an outline for the paper.
Oh, I replied. No, I continued, there would be no rubric. And as I saw the crestfallen faces in front of me I realized what these students expected me to be: a helicopter teacher.
We have all seen (and made fun of) helicopter parents. They hover. They are endlessly accommodating. They put up with rude, spoiled behavior from their children without offering much by way of discipline or punishment.
Over the last generation or so, teaching has come to resemble parenting in several ways, swayed by the currents of hyper-parenting that come from the larger culture and responding to the dictates that come down to us from higher up our institutional food chains.
Perhaps it started with the now well-documented phenomenon of grade inflation. Reluctant to make students feel bad, we started giving A’s for effort, not necessarily for accomplishment or mastery. When I was in graduate school I overheard one of my comrades arguing with a student over a grade. He’d gotten a B on the midterm: “But a B … that’s like a C!” the student yelled in utter desperation. The student, it turns out, has been proved largely correct. The children at America’s colleges and universities may not all be above average, but their grades usually are . . .
Read the rest HERE