Don’t raise a special snowflake

 One of my friends is a passionate teacher, and she’s been at it for over a decade now. And it wasn’t until a few years back she found her true calling — teaching kindergarten. Not because it’s easy — it’s not — but she sees it as an excellent opportunity for her to influence, contribute, and lay a solid foundation to a beautiful future of generations to come. 

 We need more teachers like her. 

 But my friend is also frustrated with how even the most passionate teachers can do their best work, thanks to overenthusiastic parents and coward school administration that will do anything to keep the sponsors (including parents) pleased. 

 She recited a recent incident wherein she facilitated a section-wide class art competition (5-6 sections for each class) and immediately regretted her decision. She was bombarded with messages from parents asking, “what will be the topic for the competition?”! Of course, she didn’t budge but chose to ignore the messages.

 One competition day, every kid was enthusiastic and did their best. A couple of days later, my friend declared the results and boy, it was mayhem! The parents reacted vociferously! Some even wanted to see the kids’ work who secured the first and second positions to compare their ward’s work. 

 A few of them demanded the “criteria” of judgment. Some even went to the school leadership demanding justification for the results and, of course, the top 3 student’s work so they could compare and see how different was it from their own kid’s work. 

 And here’s the worst part — the school administration conformed to the parents’ stupid requests and asked the teachers to approve. Some did, some didn’t, but that’s at this point that doesn’t even matter because parenting has gone from bad to worse, thanks to parents’ over-involvement in their kid’s affairs. 

 No, I don’t think parents shouldn’t get involved. They should. But only for aspects that are important from an educational point of view. Their role is to ensure that their kids take an interest in the studies, are regular in their classes, are participative, and most importantly, are collaborative. 

 Unfortunately, modern parenting has become a competitive sport of sorts where the scorecard matters more than anything else. The focus is on recognition regardless of the results versus appreciating meritocracy. And if they don’t have it their way, it’s essentially the teacher’s fault.

 When the teachers raise their concern with the administration, they ask them to suck it up and go with the flow. Else they’re risking losing a student, a.k.a., a customer. And amidst all the mindless back and forth between parents, teachers, and the school administration.

 They learn all the wrong values and default to “it’s the teacher’s fault.” Sure, they don’t have the maturity to understand or remotely comprehend the complexity of parenting, raising a child, and, most important — teaching a child. They absorb the negative outlook towards competition, life, people and solidify this belief that they’re exceptional. 

 The fact is that not everyone can be extraordinary. Yes, we can be unique, but that’s not the same as special. But the only way to know the difference is by allowing kids to experience fair competition and the failings or achievements that come along the way based on their efforts.

 I feel sorry for parents who don’t get this. Perhaps, one day they will, but that might be a tad little late for their exceptional children to understand how life plays out in reality.

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