Helicopter Parents

Posted: October 20, 2016 in Education

helicopter02.jpg

*The above image is taken from Jeremy Skow’s Mental Health Counselling website. It is hilarious*

I’ll begin by stating that I am not a parent. So, my thoughts are generated solely from a teacher’s perspective. I am well-aware that my wife and I (she is also a teacher) are in no position to judge the actions of parents/guardians when we have no children ourselves. I’ll just get that out of the way. Also, my objective is to present a view…not judge.

First of all, the term “helicopter parent” is used to describe an overbearing parent who makes decisions for their child(ren) by imposing their will upon them and/or taking an “excessive” interest in their lives (according to Google). I don’t know when a parent’s interest in the life of their child becomes “excessive”, but I find the latter half of that definition intriguing.

Parents should take an interest in their child and there are times when they will need to make decisions for them, so the question becomes: When does a parent need to back off and when do they need to take a more hands-on approach? Is there an age we can label students with or is it a maturity label that we need?

The statistics from a Michigan State University study (2015, I think) claims that:
1. 4% of parents attended their child’s interview for a part-time job
2. 12% of parents were the ones who setup their child’s interview for a part-time job
3. 15% of parents made complaints to businesses when their child was not hired
4. 31% of parents submitted their child’s resume for them

Again I’ll ask, at what point should a student start advocating for themselves?
I don’t have the answer for that.

A “helicopter parent” can lead to a “teacup child”. A teacup child is: a cherished possession of their parent; capable of breaking easily; always on display for others to see; only fed high-quality tea; and a reflection of the status of the parent.

Essentially, the child could end up more maladjusted to life even though the intent of the parent is pure and good-hearted. Though, as the saying goes, best intentions do not guarantee desirable outcomes. This is where the “bubble-wrapped generation” term comes from – It is a reference to children who don’t fall down because they don’t take risks because they were coddled for far too long or far too often. The future consequences of a child incapable of taking risks or knowing what it’s like to fail and try again can be insurmountable. Helicopter parenting can also cause anxiety in a child and it can be a detriment to a child’s ability to problem solve – the latter being a key component in most careers and often a quality more sought after in a candidate than grades.

To revert for a moment back to the “teacup” analogy, the overall belief is that a child from an over-bearing parent can do no wrong, but the reality is that they can and those parents should let them. They are human. There needs to be room for personal growth through self-discovery and perseverance.

But again, what do I know?

 

 

Advertisements

In the Public Eye (pt 2)

Posted: August 10, 2016 in Uncategorized

images.png

Back in October of 2013, one of my first blog posts was about Toronto’s Mayor – the late Rob Ford. I commented about his personal life and how that affected his position as Mayor of one of the largest cities in the world. To sum up: It was my position that when you’re a public figure, what you do outside of your profession directly impacts your career.

I stand by this. Now, I am not, nor will I ever be, as public of a figure as Rob Ford was, I believe that my actions outside of the classroom directly affect my career, my workplace, and my students. In short, I am careful with the way I behave – it’s not like I’m all that crazy anyway.

As of this month (Aug/2016), Nadia Shoufani (a teacher in the Dufferin-Peel Catholic School Board) was suspended with pay for speaking at an event in Toronto last month (Jul/2016). She spoke in support for Hezbollah and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) – a group classified as a terrorist organization by the Government of Canada (publicsafety.gc.ca).

I’ll admit, I am slightly torn.

My initial reaction: I was happy that Ms. Shoufani was suspended and, ideally, she should be fired too. She teaches young and impressionable minds (she teaches elementary school) and though she may not speak on this subject in-class, her actions outside of the classroom affect her students.

My reaction afterwards: I don’t know exactly what was said by Shoufani at the event, so it is possible that she was not advocating violence (as we often associate with terrorist groups…hence the name). Moreover, if they are a classified terrorist group, why is it that they were even allowed to host an event in the first place? It is possible that Shoufani was simply exercising her freedom of speech – as long as no public harm or threat of violence was issued. Right?

Therefore, I am torn. On the one hand, the Government of Canada must have a good reason for classifying such a group, but on the other hand, there is a bit of a slippery slope here. At what point can Ms. Shoufani speak her beliefs without the threat of suspension and/or termination from her profession? At what point is the private life of a teacher separate from their public life in front of his or her students?

I believe I have landed back on my initial reaction – I need to trust that my Government has classified correctly and justly and that Ms. Shoufani should then be careful with which groups she associates herself with. Moreover, if she’s willing to risk being a part of such a group, then she needs to be prepared for the consequences.

Two Quick Thoughts:
1. 
The above incident reminds me of Shawn Simoes – a young man fired from Hydro One back in May/2015 for yelling ‘FHRITP’ on camera at a Toronto FC game. Hydro One eventually fired Mr. Simoes for not adhering to company conduct. They hired him back in late 2015.
2. An idiot phoned into AM640 to comment on the Shoufani situation and said that civics (and politics, in general) should not be taught in schools because teachers always try to force their beliefs on their students. He went on to say that it is “hard to find two conservative kids graduating these days.”

Orwell v. Huxley

Posted: March 9, 2016 in Education

Huxley

*The caption for the cartoon above states: Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance* – the visual is part of a series by Stuart McMillen (2009)

I am currently teaching George Orwell’s 1984 to my grade 11 class. We’re into chapter 5 (of 24) and they are enjoying it… I’m pretty sure. They’re engaged and that’s as much as I can ask for at the moment. It’s a novel written in 1949 that highlights Orwell’s fears of what the world would look like 35 years into the future. The novel is about a 39-year old man living under constant surveillance being run by a totalitarian government. Every part of the protagonist’s life is controlled by the government, including (but not limited to): when he eats, what he eats, when he exercises, when he works, what his job is, and what rations he is entitled to. The history books are filled with lies, sex for pleasure is a rebellious act, bonds between people do not exist, and faith/love are shown only towards the leader (Big Brother).

“This world could never exist,” says a grade 11 student.
“It has,” I say. “And it still does.”

This morning I showed the VICE documentary on North Korea…

In any case, 1984 is an interesting study since our current culture exists in a world of surveillance – everyone seems to have a cellphone these days, there are cameras on every street corner, and even in Minority Report fashion, department stores are starting to cater their advertisements to specific people based on facial recognition. Is there a private world anymore? I reference Shawn Simoes – a graduate of Wilfrid Laurier University who recently lost his Sunshine List job due to a comment he made (FHRITP) while on camera at a Toronto FC game. Hydro One (his now former employer) claimed that his on-screen antics didn’t match up with the company’s ethical standard to which its employees were expected to uphold. I, personally, agree with the dismissal.

Years prior to the publication of 1984, Aldous Huxley wrote Brave New World (1932). In this novel, Huxley wrote about his fear of the future. The visual at the top of the post highlights one of his many worries featured in his novel – the ‘sea of irrelevance’ that seems to have taken over our culture.

Here is how McMillen broke down the thoughts of each author:
Orwell – He feared people who banned books
Huxley – He feared that one day books would become irrelevant
Orwell – He feared that governments would keep information from their citizens
Huxley – He feared that citizens would be hit with too much information
Orwell – He feared that the ‘truth’ would be concealed
Huxley – He feared that the ‘truth’ would be drowned by insignificant news
Orwell – It is evident in his novel that people are controlled by pain
Huxley – It is evident in his novel that people are controlled by pleasure

To sum up, Orwell feared what others may do to us, but Huxley worried about what we may do to ourselves. Both authors have valid arguments, as both sets of fears are relatable to our current culture.

What values are we aligning ourselves with and how do those values make their way into the classroom?

New Cover

“The Fall of Icarus” – is a collection of short stories and is now available for purchase through CREATESPACE and soon to be available on AMAZON.

A boy’s brother and father go off to war; a man purchases items from a hardware store; some kids continuously ring a doorbell; and a young boy recounts his time in a small cottage with his uncle. These, amongst other stories, aim to tell accounts of youthfulness, innocence, naiveté, and even revenge.

Please visit the “Publications” page for the link. OR click here

A Little Taste 3

Posted: July 17, 2015 in Uncategorized

Misanthrope

This is from Misanthrope – a short story included in my collection set to be published this year (The Fall of Icarus).

My Biggest Fear

Posted: June 26, 2015 in Uncategorized

Poets often talk about peering into the darkness or they’ll mention something deep about their souls – the dark and disturbed poets do, anyway. Cheerful poetry hardly sells.

All I know is that I could live alone, but I don’t want to. I’ve always known I’ve wanted to fall in love, grow old with someone, and share every secret I’ve ever had just so that I can tell that person: you know everything. But that wouldn’t be the end. We’d grow and we’d continue to share. It’s not enough to say we’d share one soul (there’s that reference), I want to say that we’d both place everything we are into each other’s hands without fear, anxiety, worry – we’d just do it and do so freely.

What scares me most is doing this, then growing old, and then dying to leave her here or her dying to leave me here simply because neither of us would know how to exist without the other. That’s not dependency (some would argue that’s the definition), it’s love. Then, we’d be told by friends and family to “remember the good times,” but I won’t want to – I’d want the real thing. I’d want to continue making memories that I’ll never have to relive just to remember her or for her to remember me. If she were to go first, I’d literally stand there peering into the darkness – into nothing – making no attempt to recapture my soul because it’d be useless – she’d be gone.

That is my biggest fear. It keeps me up at night and made me hesitate to meet her.

But I did.

A Little Taste 2

Posted: April 24, 2015 in Uncategorized

For Walter

This is another snapshot of a short story entitled For Walter.
It will be included in the collection of short stories (The Fall of Icarus) set to be published this summer.