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(Chronicle of Higher Education)   Modern higher education has one problem that is so serious, it might be dubbed "The Problem We're Afraid to Name." Faculty and administrators beware: It's the dreaded helicopter parents   (chronicle.com) divider line 178
    More: Obvious, helicopter parents, higher educations, faculty, parental involvement, Richard Hofstadter, athletic scholarship, secondary educations, invisible man  
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7056 clicks; posted to Main » on 13 Nov 2013 at 4:14 PM (22 weeks ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2013-11-13 01:26:55 PM
On the one hand you have academic rigor, quality of education and the rights of the students on the other generally it's parents paying the bills.
 
2013-11-13 01:50:03 PM

Voiceofreason01: On the one hand you have academic rigor, quality of education and the rights of the students on the other generally it's parents paying the bills.



I tried that line of reasoning once with an electrician who insisted on using Romex instead of knob and tube to wire up an addition to my house. He tried to insist that he was the qualified expert and that even if knob and tube was up to code, it was unsafe. I cut him off mid-sentence and asked him who's name was signed on his paycheck. He replied that his office manager had signed his paycheck.
 
2013-11-13 02:31:17 PM
I have no problem naming this problem. These people are farking crazy.
 
2013-11-13 02:37:33 PM
"lady, this is none of your business."  hang up phone.  go about business.

Is that really so hard?
 
2013-11-13 02:42:07 PM

what_now: I have no problem naming this problem. These people are farking crazy.


I agree with TFA - it's not so much that these people are crazy (though, they are), it's that the current climate of anti-intellectualism in the US is resulting in everyone from Mommie Dearest to Joe the Plumber thinking that "Real 'Murricans" know better than "a buncha librul per-fessers".  On any number of subjects, including curriculum, grading and educational standards.

That anti-intellectualism is what scares me most about the US today, honestly.  It's the root of many, many evils.
 
2013-11-13 02:45:19 PM
For every tenured professor who dares to write something more left-wing than most people like and have a beard, there's ten who will politely listen to Mrs. Chucklef*ck's impassioned defense of her son's stupidity before hanging up and lustfully stamping the term paper in front of them with the trusty red "F+" stamp.
 
2013-11-13 02:46:40 PM

Cagey B: For every tenured professor who dares to write something more left-wing than most people like and have a beard, there's ten who will politely listen to Mrs. Chucklef*ck's impassioned defense of her son's stupidity before hanging up and lustfully stamping the term paper in front of them with the trusty red "F+" stamp.


Assistant profs, sure.  Tenured profs will cackle long and loud.
 
2013-11-13 02:49:37 PM

Benevolent Misanthrope: what_now: I have no problem naming this problem. These people are farking crazy.

I agree with TFA - it's not so much that these people are crazy (though, they are), it's that the current climate of anti-intellectualism in the US is resulting in everyone from Mommie Dearest to Joe the Plumber thinking that "Real 'Murricans" know better than "a buncha librul per-fessers".  On any number of subjects, including curriculum, grading and educational standards.

That anti-intellectualism is what scares me most about the US today, honestly.  It's the root of many, many evils.



Extreme emotional investment. Dunning-Kruger effect.  It's usually one or both.
 
2013-11-13 02:59:11 PM
I think the anti-intellectualism theory is a little unrealistic here.  Those people have been around forever.  They put a dude on trial for teaching evolution.  They executed people for saying the world was round.
Today they homeschool their kids until it's time to send them off to a religious pretend college that reinforces their misguided beliefs.  So a professor at a secular school isn't likely to interact with them.

Even if somebody thought the teacher wasn't good at his job, social conventions dictate that it's not their place to contact him about they adult offspring's problems.  Adherence to that social convention is what changed, not people's opinions of teachers.  (note that TFA's "just because you have a PHD doesn't mean you know more than me" quote was from a student, not a parent).
 
2013-11-13 03:06:27 PM
One of my housemates in university was the product of a helicopter mother gone overboard. The girl had virtually no coping skills and had no barometer for how to appropriately respond to adversity. She'd cry, lock herself in her room and call home virtually whenever anything went wrong. The mother called me a biatch over the phone once for expecting her daughter to take the garbage to the curb when it was her turn (apparently that was "unsafe" since she could be attacked and raped on a pile of garbage).

I honestly wanted to slap the woman and yell in her face "YOU'RE CRIPPLING YOUR DAUGHTER, YOU HAG!" but I could just tell there was no way to reason with her.
 
2013-11-13 03:07:16 PM
"I'm sorry, Mr/Mrs. Studentparent, Federal Law prohibits me from discussing any aspect of your adult child's coursework.  Bye".(click)
 
2013-11-13 03:17:17 PM
 One father even tried to blackmail me into giving his son easier work and higher grades so that he wouldn't lose his football scholarship.

You know, if your kid can't even get an assistant coach to go to bat for him in such situations, he probably doesn't have much future in football anyway. He needs to start hitting the books.
 
2013-11-13 03:32:54 PM

serial_crusher: I think the anti-intellectualism theory is a little unrealistic here.  Those people have been around forever.  They put a dude on trial for teaching evolution.  They executed people for saying the world was round.
Today they homeschool their kids until it's time to send them off to a religious pretend college that reinforces their misguided beliefs.  So a professor at a secular school isn't likely to interact with them.

Even if somebody thought the teacher wasn't good at his job, social conventions dictate that it's not their place to contact him about they adult offspring's problems.  Adherence to that social convention is what changed, not people's opinions of teachers.  (note that TFA's "just because you have a PHD doesn't mean you know more than me" quote was from a student, not a parent).


You do have to take into account the fact that this was written by a professor who, although he is well educated and probably quite smart, has little experience outside of academia and ALSO thinks he knows how the world works, just like the helicopter parents.

I am not saying the parents are right, but it does seem that the author enjoys his perspective to the point of not realizing that his is not all encompassing.
 
2013-11-13 03:40:16 PM

dahmers love zombie: "I'm sorry, Mr/Mrs. Studentparent, Federal Law prohibits me from discussing any aspect of your adult child's coursework.  Bye".(click)


Until copter-mom shows up with snowflake in tow and the dreaded FERPA waiver that gives you permission to discuss said snowflake's grades with copter-mom.
 
2013-11-13 03:48:36 PM

R.A.Danny: You do have to take into account the fact that this was written by a professor who, although he is well educated and probably quite smart, has little experience outside of academia and ALSO thinks he knows how the world works, just like the helicopter parents.


You are aware that all schools actually exist in the real world? They aren't actually buffered from it in some parallel dimension as some seem to believe.

Considering the professor was talking specifically about a problem inside academia, I fail to see your point.
 
2013-11-13 03:56:01 PM
In recent years, I've had to deal with parents much more frequently than I ever imagined I would have to as a college professor. One father even tried to blackmail me into giving his son easier work and higher grades so that he wouldn't lose his football scholarship. I'm not alone: Many of my colleagues report hearing from parents more and more frequently in the past 10 years or so.

This is absolutely true. I'm glad to see it isn't just me noticing the trend.

I am the supervising attorney for a program that gives law students a chance to deal with real legal issues for students and staff at a university. Naturally, a lot of what we handle from the students involves landlord/tenant issues.

In the last five years or so, there has been a huge, huge upswing in the number of calls I get from parents, usually out of state, dealing with their kids' legal issues. Mind you these "kids" are adults: the school requires freshmen to live on campus, so these are sophomores, juniors and seniors whose parents are micromanaging their lives for them. Some are even graduate or medical students, and their parents are still running their farking lives and running interference for them whenever life throws them the slightest curve.

It is incredible the level of coddling these people do for their children. And when you actually talk to the kid, you can absolutely tell how emotionally stunted they are. Junior has a problem with his roommate using the bathroom too long, so mom will be emailing and calling me 2 dozen times over the course of 18 hours with different thoughts on the problem. Needless to say, Junior, who is a 23 year old med student, has the conflict resolution skills of your average 5 year old. I genuinely wondered if mom will be in the operating room berating the nursing staff when Junior's incompetence starts killing patients.

Or a young woman from out of state doesn't like an apartment she rented sight unseen, and when I tell her she signed a contract and getting out of it could lead to a lawsuit, hellooooo hysterical waterworks. Then 20 minutes later comes the call from the screeching harpy of a mother accusing me of colluding with the landlord, and threatening to report me to the bar association for a conflict of interest.

I've worked in this program since 2001. Since the school tends to cater to wealthy northeasterners, this has always been something of a factor. But something has changed in the generation that started going to school in the last 5 years or so: what used to be the exception is becoming the rule. These parents seriously need to back out of their kids' lives, because they are raising a generation of emotionally stunted sociopaths.
 
2013-11-13 03:59:36 PM

impaler: Considering the professor was talking specifically about a problem inside academia, I fail to see your point.


I'm not arguing that there is a problem, but some of the verbiage the prof in tfa uses makes it pretty obvious that he lumps most parents into a rather small bucket. A bucket filled with banjos.
 
2013-11-13 04:05:28 PM

gilgigamesh: I've worked in this program since 2001. Since the school tends to cater to wealthy northeasterners, this has always been something of a factor. But something has changed in the generation that started going to school in the last 5 years or so: what used to be the exception is becoming the rule.


I wonder if this isn't some weird side-effect of the 2008 recession.
 
2013-11-13 04:08:57 PM
I thought it was binge drinking and date rape?
 
2013-11-13 04:13:04 PM

dahmers love zombie: "I'm sorry, Mr/Mrs. Studentparent, Federal Law prohibits me from discussing any aspect of your adult child's coursework.  Bye".(click)


During my college days, I worked in the Academic Adviser's office for incoming transfer students.  A helicopter mother called one day, demanding to know what her son's grades had been like the first semester.  She explained that he was transferred to my school to be closer to home because he was goofing off at an out-of-state college and his grades had been suffering, so she wanted to check up on him.  Told her that her son was over 18 and I couldn't legally disclose anything on his college transcripts.  Holy cats, did she go off on me!  She pays the bills, she's his mother so she should be privy to all his information, yadda, yadda.  Too bad, lady--take it up with your kid.  Gave her the phone # to the kid's dorm and told her to have a nice day.
 
2013-11-13 04:21:44 PM

Voiceofreason01: On the one hand you have academic rigor, quality of education and the rights of the students on the other generally it's parents paying the bills.


On the third hand, a federal law bans professors from discussing students' grades with their parents.
 
2013-11-13 04:21:53 PM

Gecko Gingrich: Voiceofreason01: On the one hand you have academic rigor, quality of education and the rights of the students on the other generally it's parents paying the bills.


I tried that line of reasoning once with an electrician who insisted on using Romex instead of knob and tube to wire up an addition to my house. He tried to insist that he was the qualified expert and that even if knob and tube was up to code, it was unsafe. I cut him off mid-sentence and asked him who's name was signed on his paycheck. He replied that his office manager had signed his paycheck.


The late John Silber long time president of Boston University often said that the university is a business and the quality of the product, grads, is what brings in new customers.  It is in the university's best interest to turn out highly skilled graduates to attack new students.  If you want customer driven education University of Phoenix  will take your money
 
2013-11-13 04:23:21 PM

vernonFL: I thought it was binge drinking and date rape?


Ah, the 'good ole days'.
 
2013-11-13 04:23:36 PM

Cheron: The late John Silber long time president of Boston University often said that the university is a business and the quality of the product, grads, is what brings in new customers.  It is in the university's best interest to turn out highly skilled graduates to attack new students.  If you want customer driven education University of Phoenix  will take your money


This. The problem with a "customer driven" education model is that the "customer" generally doesn't know  if what they got was a good "product" or not until long after they're finished "consuming" it.
 
2013-11-13 04:23:50 PM
Guy is right, but he comes across as an utterly pompous, derisive, sense-of-superiority ass.  Exactly the reason that anti-intellectualism flourishes.
 
2013-11-13 04:25:39 PM

FrancoFile: Guy is right, but he comes across as an utterly pompous, derisive, sense-of-superiority ass.  Exactly the reason that anti-intellectualism flourishes.


You said it better than I did.
 
2013-11-13 04:26:54 PM
I blame vaccines and "Big Pharma" for all of this.
 
2013-11-13 04:29:06 PM

eiger: Voiceofreason01: On the one hand you have academic rigor, quality of education and the rights of the students on the other generally it's parents paying the bills.

On the third hand, a federal law bans professors from discussing students' grades with their parents.


On the fourth hand, students can be coerced by their parents into waiving their rights
 
2013-11-13 04:30:07 PM

impaler: gilgigamesh: I've worked in this program since 2001. Since the school tends to cater to wealthy northeasterners, this has always been something of a factor. But something has changed in the generation that started going to school in the last 5 years or so: what used to be the exception is becoming the rule.

I wonder if this isn't some weird side-effect of the 2008 recession.


No, I think it's a weird side-effect of the onslaught of information and the advent of NCLB.  Parents started believing that a child molester/rapist/kidnapper/terrorist/school shooter was lurking in every shadow, hell-bent on their child's destruction.  They started wrapping them in bubble-wrap, not letting them out of the house, driving them to the bus stop, lobbying to pass laws against every possible threat (zero tolerance, anyone?).  I really think that's where it all started.  I taught HS in the late 80s-early 90s and my colleagues and I never saw helicopter parents.  Yeah, there was that odd duck who biatched to the school that I shouldn't teach Macbeth because it had witches and ghosts in it, but that was a rarity.  Now, it's fairly commonplace.  Parents let us do our farking jobs and trusted us when we told them the kids weren't working up to their potential.

Then, a few years after NCLB kicked in, sometime around 2005, It all went to hell.  Suddenly, everything was OUR fault.  Little Johnny couldn't write a business letter because I obviously wasn't presenting the material correctly, not because he didn't pay attention in class (when he bothered to show up at all).  He failed all the tests on Grapes of Wrath because they're too hard & don't cater to his ADHD, not because he didn't bother to read the farking book.  After a couple of years of that, I gave up and quit.
 
2013-11-13 04:30:52 PM

gilgigamesh: In recent years, I've had to deal with parents much more frequently than I ever imagined I would have to as a college professor. One father even tried to blackmail me into giving his son easier work and higher grades so that he wouldn't lose his football scholarship. I'm not alone: Many of my colleagues report hearing from parents more and more frequently in the past 10 years or so.

This is absolutely true. I'm glad to see it isn't just me noticing the trend.

I am the supervising attorney for a program that gives law students a chance to deal with real legal issues for students and staff at a university. Naturally, a lot of what we handle from the students involves landlord/tenant issues.

In the last five years or so, there has been a huge, huge upswing in the number of calls I get from parents, usually out of state, dealing with their kids' legal issues. Mind you these "kids" are adults: the school requires freshmen to live on campus, so these are sophomores, juniors and seniors whose parents are micromanaging their lives for them. Some are even graduate or medical students, and their parents are still running their farking lives and running interference for them whenever life throws them the slightest curve.

It is incredible the level of coddling these people do for their children. And when you actually talk to the kid, you can absolutely tell how emotionally stunted they are. Junior has a problem with his roommate using the bathroom too long, so mom will be emailing and calling me 2 dozen times over the course of 18 hours with different thoughts on the problem. Needless to say, Junior, who is a 23 year old med student, has the conflict resolution skills of your average 5 year old. I genuinely wondered if mom will be in the operating room berating the nursing staff when Junior's incompetence starts killing patients.

Or a young woman from out of state doesn't like an apartment she rented sight unseen, and when I tell her she signed a contract and getti ...


I definitely see your point but the issue is a societal one and not a parenting issue. Society at large immediately blames the parents for ANYTHING that the child of those parents does wrong. Kid gets in trouble with the law ? Parents were chumps etc, kid is a failure at school ? parents didn't stay on top of them enough etc etc

Its a losing situation for parents. It is no longer we gave him/her all the tools needed to go out in the world and be successful at 18. If parents do give their kids leeway and allow them to become independent they have to pray to god nothing bad happens or their peers will be pounding on their door looking to get paid or answer why little johnny went on a shooting spree or was caught with 100 pounds of ganja.

Add to that an America that has very few jobs for folks who get in to trouble or don't want to live in a cubicle and its very easy to see why they are so paranoid about their kids lives.
 
2013-11-13 04:31:00 PM
"Just because you have a Ph.D. doesn't mean you know more about American history than I do."
I imagined his mentality was something like this:
www.rustywalrus.com
 
2013-11-13 04:32:04 PM
Its funny. My sister is a counselor  for higher education at a college and she gets this all the time. She just tell them. Under HIPPA I cant tell you anything. And if they become a pain. She hangs up. The schools she works for does not play any of the parents games. And she gets it all the time.
 
2013-11-13 04:32:40 PM

Cagey B: For every tenured professor who dares to write something more left-wing than most people like and have a beard, there's ten who will politely listen to Mrs. Chucklef*ck's impassioned defense of her son's stupidity before hanging up and lustfully stamping the term paper in front of them with the trusty red "F+" stamp.


I am sooooooooo stealing that 'Chucklef*ck' phrase.
 
2013-11-13 04:34:14 PM

R.A.Danny: FrancoFile: Guy is right, but he comes across as an utterly pompous, derisive, sense-of-superiority ass.  Exactly the reason that anti-intellectualism flourishes.

You said it better than I did.


I'm not saying I agree with either of you, nor am I saying I disagree. But I'll say this:

I've got $24 in cash in my pocket right now, and I'd wager all of it that Jill Silos-Rooney ain't "guy", "he", or that the perspective is "his".

//Just sayin'.
 
2013-11-13 04:36:43 PM

Gonz: R.A.Danny: FrancoFile: Guy is right, but he comes across as an utterly pompous, derisive, sense-of-superiority ass.  Exactly the reason that anti-intellectualism flourishes.

You said it better than I did.

I'm not saying I agree with either of you, nor am I saying I disagree. But I'll say this:

I've got $24 in cash in my pocket right now, and I'd wager all of it that Jill Silos-Rooney ain't "guy", "he", or that the perspective is "his".

//Just sayin'.


Heh.
Didn't even see the byline.

Gal is right, but she comes across...
 
2013-11-13 04:38:35 PM

Gonz: I'd wager all of it that Jill Silos-Rooney ain't "guy"


Oops.
 
2013-11-13 04:40:54 PM
Helicopter parents are a minor annoyance.

People going into massive debt for a degree in the hopes of MAYBE not working at starbucks is a far greater problem.
 
2013-11-13 04:40:55 PM

serial_crusher: "lady, this is none of your business."  hang up phone.  go about business.

Is that really so hard?


The more technical way of putting it is : "FERPA says that this is none of your business". Then hang up.
 
2013-11-13 04:43:09 PM
I get to play this game every year for the holidays.  Extended family talks crap about the school I went to because the school "allowed" their son to get drunk, off campus, and skip every class.  How dare they fail him out of his first semester.

Of course the school that allowed their other son to get drunk, skip class, and fail is equally to blame.
 
2013-11-13 04:44:02 PM
Elementary school assembly on Monday for Veterans.  Really nice and thoughtful.  The kids worked hard.  A 5th grader steps up to sing a song for us and hits a couple bad notes (she was actually pretty good up to that point).  Her mom comes running up screaming "stop" at the music teacher, tells her she isn't playing the song correctly and tells her to move so she can play piano for her kid and "do it right".  I felt sorry for the little girl - she was mortified.  BTW, the music teacher didn't relinquish the piano, the rest of the song was skipped, and mommy was escorted out by the gym teacher.  Good luck playing that down for the rest of your 7 years of public education, kid.
 
2013-11-13 04:44:03 PM

FrancoFile: Guy is right, but he comes across as an utterly pompous, derisive, sense-of-superiority ass.  Exactly the reason that anti-intellectualism flourishes.


Can you point out exactly where she was an "utterly pompous, derisive, sense-of-superiority ass"?
 
2013-11-13 04:44:13 PM
I taught school for 5 years.  I didn't get out of it because of the children.  If you want to know why children are the way they are, look at their parents.
 
2013-11-13 04:44:17 PM

GBmanNC: Helicopter parents are a minor annoyance.

People going into massive debt for a degree in the hopes of MAYBE not working at starbucks is a far greater problem.


Not for the author.
 
2013-11-13 04:44:52 PM

impaler: FrancoFile: Guy is right, but he comes across as an utterly pompous, derisive, sense-of-superiority ass.  Exactly the reason that anti-intellectualism flourishes.

Can you point out exactly where she was an "utterly pompous, derisive, sense-of-superiority ass"?


The part where she likened herself to a MD.
 
2013-11-13 04:45:52 PM
i had to deal with a few of these parents back when I went to collage and all I did was do work study in the library.  I had a few times when some student would lose their access to the computers in the library or couldn't check out any books(could come in and use them in the library). We get the parent here and there that come in or call and demand that their kid should have have these things back.  If i was lucky it be at time when the head librarian was there and I could just pass the parent off to her.  But a few times it was late at night when it was just me.
 
2013-11-13 04:45:59 PM

serial_crusher: "lady, this is none of your business."  hang up phone.  go about business.

Is that really so hard?


Except it is.
Where I went to school, the student had to sign an agreement if they wanted things like grades and other information to go to parents.
If they don't have that, then yes they can say "none yo biz" but otherwise they have to discuss such stuff with parents.  Mainly because the parents are paying the bills.
 
2013-11-13 04:46:16 PM
I watched a professor shut the door in a parent's face when said parent wanted said professor to add. 0.5 to the student's final grade so he could get a "C".

// Priceless.
 
2013-11-13 04:46:50 PM

Cheron: Gecko Gingrich: Voiceofreason01: On the one hand you have academic rigor, quality of education and the rights of the students on the other generally it's parents paying the bills.


I tried that line of reasoning once with an electrician who insisted on using Romex instead of knob and tube to wire up an addition to my house. He tried to insist that he was the qualified expert and that even if knob and tube was up to code, it was unsafe. I cut him off mid-sentence and asked him who's name was signed on his paycheck. He replied that his office manager had signed his paycheck.

The late John Silber long time president of Boston University often said that the university is a business and the quality of the product, grads, is what brings in new customers.  It is in the university's best interest to turn out highly skilled graduates to attack new students.  If you want customer driven education University of Phoenix  will take your money


Is this Gladiator U?
 
2013-11-13 04:47:14 PM

FrancoFile: Heh.
Didn't even see the byline.


Low-hanging fruit like that, I had to snark a little bit.

//And surprise myself. I thought I had like ten bucks in the ol' money clip. Extra cash is always neat.
 
2013-11-13 04:47:39 PM
FTFA:" He's certainly entitled to his opinion, but should uninformed opinion be the basis of public-education policy? Absolutely not-unless you think it's OK for someone who has opinions on medical care but no education or training in it to conduct delicate brain surgery "

Mr Professor I agree with your article, but don't compare creating a ciriculum with farking brain surgery, you douche.
 
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