Patty Kleban, an instructor at Penn State, is sick and tired of a troubling and growing trend: Whiny students and the parents who enable them.
Yes, in this age of special snowflakes and helicopter parents, it’s the teachers who often face the brunt of the Me-llennial generation.
Writing at StateCollege.com, Kleban explains in an op-ed headlined “Faculty Could Use a Safe Space Too” that excuse-filled students who seem incapable or unwilling to follow the clearly delineated rules of the syllabus are increasingly the source of her professional frustration:
… Every detail, every question, every process, every expectation must be outlined (sometimes in two or three places) so that when the grades are turned back to a student, you have covered your proverbial back side. “This doesn’t actually say it was due on this day” and “I didn’t think you actually meant to use sub-headings and specific margins on the paper,” even though both were spelled out in writing and on the course website and I covered it in class.
“I deserve a better grade than this” and “My father wants to talk to you about this paper” are becoming increasingly more common. …
I recently heard from two separate families who thought my information and decision related to their child was incorrect. One told me “This is emphatically not a communication issue with father and daughter,” when he learned his daughter was not graduating as he expected. Even though we had it documented from two years ago that she would need another semester, it was clearly a “dropped ball” on our end. (She later admitted to me in private that she was afraid to tell him).
Another parent angrily told me that “I’m paying for your services” when I explained that his son missed an important opportunity with a recruiter because he slept through the scheduled conference call.
… an incident with a student escalated to the point that I had to flag my boss down (who just happen to be walking by). The student was angry — threatening posture, not leaving when I asked him to. All because he didn’t think he earned the grade I that had assigned and wouldn’t take no for an answer. …
Sadly, the parental calls, the angry and entitled student and the kid who waits until the last minute (or doesn’t do the work at all) and realizes the consequences are becoming more common. The student who becomes angry with a faculty member (or who shares their anger with mom and dad who then call the faculty member) is becoming more common than it was even 10 years ago.
Professor Kleban’s concern are very similar to that of another scholar who recently spoke out about similar trends. Lori Isbell, an English professor at Yavapai College, has written about a phenomenon she has noticed among her pupils. They act like helpless whiners.
In effect, they either ping her with really dumb questions (really dumb) or blame her for not doing enough to help them, she writes in her piece: “Can’t or Won’t: The Culture of Helplessness.”
[T]he majority of my interactions with students these days — especially via email — are not of the substantive or academic variety but rather banterings about whether an assignment is really due on the due date, or what we did in class last Tuesday if last Tuesday was an exam. I also occasionally receive the late-night rant in which an aggrieved student wants to know why he is failing the class, just because he has submitted a long series of failing papers and/or not submitted the papers at all.
These two professors’ anecdotes are canaries in a coalmine, confirming once again what we already know: that far too many Americans have raised up Generation “It’s Not Fair.”