Student accountabilityWhat ever happened to students being responsible for their own success and failure? Is it me or does it seems that parents are constantly pacifying their children and making...

Student accountability

What ever happened to students being responsible for their own success and failure? Is it me or does it seems that parents are constantly pacifying their children and making excuses for why they can not succeed? Blaming teachers and environment or some kind of made up new aged medical condition rather then hold them accountable for themselves. Anyone want to chime on this one?

Expert Answers
amy-lepore eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I have taught in many schools over the years, having chosen a member of the USMC as my husband and moving around about every four years as a result.  The students in Yuma, AZ, were among the most diligent in their studies and most of those kids walked across the border from Mexico to attend school (using a relative's address in the US as a home residence to qualify).  They were also among the poorest I have ever taught.

The wealthiest kids I had the pleasure of teaching were in Florida, at a charter school near Wildwood.  There, the students and their wealthy parents were definitely in charge.  I actually had a student tell me once, "We just won't do our homework and that will look bad on you.  Then we'll (meaning the students and their parents) get you fired."  Since the teachers were not members of the union here, and the charter school could fire you for any reason or not even give a reason, the teachers tended to bend in order to keep their jobs.  The administration there even had powpows with the students about what could be done to improve their school as if the students were the equals of the teachers and knew as much or more than the adults about the business of education.  On more than one occasion, students banded together and marched to the office to demand that this teacher or that teacher be let go because they weren't learning anything.  Usually, these were the teachers who failed to allow students to run the classroom and who demanded actual work of the students.  Of course, two years later, when all the little darlings didn't get into the hotsy-totsy programs or even admitted to the Ivy League schools they applied to, the principal and all the guidance counselors were fired for not doing their jobs. 

Yes, I'd say there is a sense of entitlement, but it's not just with the students. I see it in society as a whole.  Certain groups of people just expect certain treatment without working for or earning it.  Where it begins, I don't know.  But if it doesn't end, and parents don't make their kids work for their achievements and to appreciate what they've got instead of expecting more to be just handed to them, the principles this country was founded upon will be lost.  You can bet that China, Germany, and other countries won't care about the excuses we give as they push forward to surpass the US as a superpower when we've all lost the drive to win and succeed or we've overmedicated ourselves so we no longer care. 

linalarocca eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I find that parents are questioning and confronting teachers now more than ever. They insist on meeting with the teacher as soon as their child comes home and complains about something the teacher did to them. I don't think that parents want to consider the idea that their perfect child did something against the policies of the school. When I recently asked one of my friends about an incident that occurred between his son's teacher and himself, he told me he didn't care about the fact that the teacher had 32 students in the classroom to teach. He continued by stating that teachers make the big bucks, so they better be able to handle any number of students. What surprised me was that my friend did not focus on the fact that the teacher had used the excuse of having too many students in the classroom to be able to pay close attention to her choice of language or tone of voice. Instead, he chose to focus on her salary as the reason why she should be able to manage all of her students!

ako6777 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I agree with you that many students are not being held accountable for themselves.  I don't know where, when, or why society has changed but I honestly don't remember it being like this when I was a student.  I was made to face the consequences of my actions and I was held accountable.  I have witnessed many parents placing blame on others or events instead of on their own children's actions.  It concerns me because part of growing up is learning from our mistakes and dealing with their consequences.  I have seen an increase in continued juvenile behavior well into the college years.  I believe this is due to parents not allowing their children to take responsibility for themselves and enabling them.

lynn30k eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I agree. There is this huge sense of entitlement on the part of the parents of the kids I work with, and I am in an upper-middle class high school. The attitude is that "my child couldn't possibly do anything except be perfect, and the fact that he has a 40 average in your class is your fault." Or the administration. Or the other students. Or the weather. Or the class is too early (seriously, I had a parent ask if her son couldn't start at 10 AM because he just doesn't do well early in the morning.) I feel sorry for these kids when they get to college or a job, and don't understand why they are failing. Don't their parents get what a disservice they are doing to their children??  I guess not.

bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

As a teacher with 25+ years experience, I have seen the shift in parental attitudes since I began teaching in 1979. At that time (and during my own school days in the 1960s and 1970s), a teacher's word was ALWAYS accepted over that of a student. But not anymore. I agree that many more parents tend to defend their children no matter the amount of evidence that points to the contrary. And yes, more students today are willing to blame anyone but themselves for the problems they create. It's not all kids, of course, but the numbers have changed drastically during the past 3-4 decades. Entitlement and self-absorption issues are just two of the many changes in students of the 21st century.

accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I agree that this "entitlement" is definitely class related. I have had parents blame me for their child's poor grade when really their child needs to work harder and I am doing everything I can as a teacher to support them and encourage them to achieve a better grade. I wonder too whether this is something that has developed over time - I certainly was encouraged from an early age to face the consequences of my study or lack of it - my parents didn't pressurise me, they just made some of the consequences of not studying very clear. What do other people think? Is this a problem that has become worse over recent time? In which case what are the triggers?

kiwi eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Sadly this isn't just an American phenomenon. I also think education systems interntaionally are afraid of students failing so do not support teachers when we try to tell the hard truth. My school is currently amending our reporting to parents from 'Not Achieved' to 'Developing' - I wasn't around when 'fail' was acceptable. I can't see how you can be developing a skill you are not even willing to attempt...Perhaps I am a 'developing' neurophysicist, or a 'developing' supermodel. These softening of semantics do not prepare students for the real world. Thank heaven 'developing' hasn't made it to the driving test!

litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Parents that blame the teacher are not doing their children any favors.  I have often found that when I listen to parents' concerns and let them vent, they will usually allow me to calmly explain my perspective.  I sympathize with them, but I hold fast to my principles.  I remind them that I am a partner and not an enemy, and I want to work with them to help their child get to wherever he or she needs to be.  If we cut children breaks when they are younger just to get their parents off our backs they are in for a rude awakening once they get to college.

clairewait eNotes educator| Certified Educator

As a result of this phenomenon, I began creating student portfolios and keeping EVERYTHING - probably my 2nd semester of teaching.  I only had to go through one or two parent complaints where my word was not good enough to learn.

It is a sad thing and will only trickle very soon into the work force - where, hopefully, American consumerism and the business world will not stand for it.  I think public high school is largely a big padded bubble, lying to its students that life is as easy as you (or your parents) make it.

ajmchugh eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I agree with so many of these posts.  I find it to be so disheartening that so many wonderful teachers are questioned about and blamed for student issues.  Like some others discussed, I document EVERYTHING and make sure that I'm able to back up and defend each and every grade I put on a paper.  I've found that doing so can calm even the most agitated parents, and that most of the time, a conference between teachers, parents, and students uncovers a "miscommunication" of some sort between the kids and their parents. 

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Comparing my experiences teaching in a rural, poor, largely Hispanic high school with those of family members who teach in much more middle class areas, I would say that this is a cultural thing.  My mom and brother talk a lot about parents who complain.  I only ever had one that I can think of in the 8 years that I taught HS, and she was one of the "rich people."

So I think it's an issue of middle class people thinking that they and their kids are entitled...

besure77 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I too find that students are not held accountable for themselves. It almost seems as if there is an excuse for everything. I agree with the previous post that teachers are not trusted anymore.

I think some of this has to do with the fact that children are spoiled these days. It seems that more and more children gets things handed to them and they do not have to work to get something. This is what they expect out of school as well.

copelmat eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Unfortunately, this reality is much larger than just education, this is a plague throughout our society. The only thing worse than the lack of responsibility we see in many students is the phenomenon of many of the "helicopter parents" that exist as well. Not that I'm a fan or believer in the "hard knocks" philosophy of life, but responsibility and accountability seem to be fading fast in our 21st century culture.

angiewill | Student

Each and every year I am floored by the parents.  True there have been a few times with my own children I have had to step in, however, those times have been because the teacher was in fact wrong. For example, my oldest is dyslexic, they were pulling her out for dyslexia interention during Social Studies and she wasn't returning to the classroom until after Math instruction.  She was falling further and further behind because the teacher was failing to instruct her when she returned.  I had her removed fromt he Dyslexia program and did that type of intervention at home myself.

But I have students who go home and tell bold faced lies, then the parents either call (one even showed up at my house) to confront me.  Each time, we have resolved the situation, but it shouldn't have ever happened.

I have even had parents call me to give me excuses as to why their baby didn't do their work.  For example, I always end my school year with a research paper.  We work in class for  weeks doing the research and writing the paper. I had a parent tell me that the reason her baby didn't do his paper is because he is at home alone quite a  bit because she is always at work.  I explained to her that I wasn't accepting that excuse because we did the work at school, not at home.  He chose to not do his work.  She got mad at me.  Appalling!!!