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EDITORIAL UNDERSCORES NEED FOR 2-WAY COMMUNICATION

The following was published in The Snowdrift, the student newspaper at Snow College. Since it was written as an editorial, I assume the title, "Please!! Let us make adult choices," and the article are both the work of Editor-in-Chief Amy Mullen.

Let me admit that reprinting this article without my own extensive editorial comment is difficult. If I were commenting, I would be inclined to point out the over-gen-eral-i-za-tion in the first paragraph. To say that "it is close to impossible" to be independent as a Snow student is a bigger generalization than the one example cited in the editorial can support.If I were commenting of this student's work, I would also want to ask about the perspective of the teacher in this example. The reader's assumption is that the student writer-reporter chose not to contact the teacher involved, or it may be that the teacher was contacted but not quoted. The point is that the reader does not get the benefit of the teacher's perspective and that a maligned teacher does not get a chance to respond.

I think I would also ask about the hyperbole, "angry beyond belief," and the tone. But since I'm not writing a commentary on the editorial, I'll let the editorial speak for itself:

"I have some very disturbing news for those of you who came to college to be independent. At Snow College, it is close to impossible.

"Last week, a friend of mine missed two of her classes for reasons that are really nobody's business but hers.

Baker's note: Snow College policy allows a teacher to drop a student who misses a three-credit class three times.T Well, unfortunately, two of her teachers felt concerned enough to take very unnecessary action.

"That morning, she received a call from a teacher who had heard through another student that she had missed class. My friend was shocked (to say the least) to get a call about missing classes. She understood the teacher's concern but was very upset at the obvious invasion of her privacy. She resented being treated like a high school student. Who could forget those calls from the truancy officers? Well, if you think this is bad, wait, it gets worse.

"That evening, the phone once again rang, but this time it was her parents. Yes, the teacher of the class (that she had missed) had felt it was his civic, patriotic duty to call her parents and notify them of her absences. My friend was angry beyond belief this time. And, who can blame her?

"How can we be expected to grow up and become adults if we are still being treated like junior high students? I have never heard of a professor of a college calling a student's parents. Is this what makes Snow College unique? If so, maybe the priorities should be readjusted. Snow College: Your home away from home, and if it's not your home, then by darn, your teachers will make it that way!!

"Now, I am not saying that these teachers didn't feel genuine concern for my friend. I'm sure they were seriously considering her future. But, if she wants to miss classes then that is her decision, and it shouldn't involve anyone else. We are over 18 years of age, and we do understand the consequences of our actions. And if wedon't, then shouldn't we be the ones to learn the lesson? I think that we learn from everything that happens to us as long as we are allowed the freedom to make our own choice.

"I truly appreciate the one-on-one atmosphere that I have had with my professors. I have asked them for advice many times. Thankfully, most know that their advice is just that, advice and that we, the adults, should make the final decision."

P.S. Sorry Amy, I can't resist adding a postscript. Last Sunday I got a call from a student. She had been ill and was still trying to finish an assignment that was due Monday afternoon. I knew she had been ill because she sent me an e-mail message and had one of her friends drop by my office to get the assignment.

She apologized for calling me at home and apologized again for calling me on Sunday. Since I knew why she missed class, I cut her some slack. I gave her some extra time to finish the paper and allowed her to send it to me e-mail from her home in Utah County. If I had not known of her problem, I would have shown no mercy for late work.

I suppose that the point is that communication is a two-way street. I don't mind getting calls at home from students, and I hope the students I call don't mind hearing from me. I must admit that I am reluctant to call a student at home, and that even though I am not the teacher in your example, your generalization about calls making it impossible for students to gain independence has made me more reluctant to telephone students. Reluctance aside, I will continue to make calls.

I'd like to know what others think about teachers who telephone students. I'll send any comments on to Amy and The Snowdrift editorial staff. I have invited Amy Mullen and her staff to respond to comments in a future "Learning Matters."