Re: DSM: Parents
Thu, 01 Jul 1999 14:26:17 -0400

Hi Everyone

Joe asked me to fill in the details on this parent-encouraged class
request story. Basically what happened was that three kids told me they
wanted a Latin class. I said, "Great!" (I think they were testing to
see what we would do with a request for a class we weren't able to
teach, but I happened to be able to tach it, and I think that caught
them off guard.) I told them I would need a day or two to get some
materials together and that I would let them know when I was ready. Two
days later I mentioned to one of them that I was ready to go, that they
should consult with the others and let me know when we should start. I
admit I did that on purpose to see just how interested they really
were. Not surprisingly, they did nothing. Another day went by and I
told another kid, thinking that in all fairness the first might have
dropped the ball and the other kids might be quite interested. Still no
bite. About two weeks later, I told all three together that the things
I had brought in/copied were cluttering up my cubby and that if they
were not interested after all I'd like to take them home. They said,
quite pleasantly that they had changed their minds, and I was happy to
chalk it up to one of the many false starts and experiments in
negotiation being done during our first year adjustment.
        A few days later one of the kid's parent came in to pick her up. He
rarely came to school and I made a point of engaging with him, just to
check in and see how he was feeling about the school and the recent 1st
assembly meeting. He immediately expressed frustration that his
daughter had requested a latin class and that a staff member had dropped
the ball and never followed up on her request. When I made it clear
that I was that staff member and gave the above accounting of what had
happened he got really angry and lectured me about nurturing kids
interests and not setting up road blocks and how his daughter might
really have been interested in Latin if only I had set up the class and
encouraged her to come try it. His daughter looked like she would die,
as it became clear that the idea of the Latin class had really been an
attempt to get her Dad off her back, and that she had let me take the
heat for it not happening.
        Of course we (Dad and I) had a long discussion about interest and
motivation and empowerment and such things you all already know, but he
stood his angry ground and announced that he was telling everyone he
knew what a horrible school this was and that he was only letting his
daughter come because she insisted on it and that it was the first tme
she had been happy in years...Oh well. (BTW she's reenrolled for next
year and growing more wonderfully confident and happy by the day.)

Romey Pittman, Fairhaven School

Joe Jackson wrote:
> About the middle of this year, one of our parents apparently told his
> teenage student to take some kind of math class. The student approached a
> Staff Mbr and requested the course; they got together once to talk about it.
> My memory's a little shaky about how it fell apart, but apparently the
> student did not show much motivation for making the class happen; I'm not
> sure if the student didn't show up, or if she was unprepared, etc. The
> Staff Member, as he/she should have, let the class fall apart.
> The parent showed up at school and was extremely irate and unloaded on the
> Staff Member. The Staff Member asked if they would like a conference, which
> they did. At the conference, the parent said that his child had told
> him/her that the child had asked for the class and the Staff Member "didn't
> do anything about it" (which I guess is somewhat true). The conference was
> a little less hot than the original confrontation; but I don't really
> remember how the conference went specifically - I'll ask the Staff Member if
> he/she wants to break anonyminity and post on this subject.
> The upshot was that the parent wasn't really ever satisfied by the
> conference, and the Staff Member reported the situation. My deduction is
> that that parent is not the parent making the decisions about where and how
> the child goes to school.
> - Joe Jackson,
> *****
> Visit Fairhaven School's website at
> -----Original Message-----
> From: <>
> To: <>
> Date: Sunday, June 27, 1999 9:09 PM
> Subject: Re: DSM: Parents
> >>Funny, you have just described a situation that happened at Fairhaven
> School
> >>this last winter. Except that the "complaint" was a little more
> emotionally
> >>charged.
> >
> >Could you go into more detail? I am very interested in how schools handle
> >this.
> >

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