Sunday, April 24, 2011
"Bring Your Parents to School" day... is every day.
What irked me most about Schooled were the parents. Ok, maybe that's not a fair statement, because a lot of Schooled irked me. Most of Schooled irked me. But the mothers stood out, at least with my educational background. I'm attended public school in the Denver, CO suburbs up until coming to Colby, and truly loved it. It wasn't a cultural melting pot by any means, but I did come in contact with a bit of class variety, as well as variety in personalities. Public school was definitely about working hard to stand out, about getting involved in as much as you could if you really wanted to build a competitive resume for college application season.
What the Schooled mothers reminded me most of were the "helicopter moms" of my public school education. I know the concept of a parent that sticks way too close to their maturing child's life is not one that is unique to a public school education and that it certainly occurs in private school as well. But I couldn't help but comparing the differences between the Langdon Hall parents and the ones I came in contact with during my schooling. The "helicopter moms" of Arapahoe High School seemed to cruise in when the child encountered any difficulties in grades or competitive extra-curriculars. Jenny didn't get the "A" she needed on that big government test? Well, she needs to keep her GPA up for college applications next fall, and mom is going to have a word with her teacher. Mike got benched after a week of slack playing? Dad has something to say to coach about that. Parents would come in to teachers' office hours, send emails, make calls to let the teachers and coaches know that their child deserves more recognition, a higher grade, a better spot.
However, when confronted, these parents seem to certainly have their childrens' best interests at heart. They wanted their babies to succeed, to stand out, to rise above the 2,000 other suburban teenagers at Arapahoe. It's not easy to make a stance in public school, and while I certainly don't support their behavior, I understand that they are motivated by how much they do care for their children.
This is where I saw the biggest discrepancy between public school parents and Lakhani's depiction of public school parents in Schooled. A moment between Anna and Lara (Benjamin's mother) in the restaurant stood out to me especially. Anna notes that the conversation they had over lunch was completely centered on her (Anna), and she feels as though she is "on a very lavish date with a man who was clearly trying to seduce me". She also recognizes that they had not spoken about Bejamin once. The mother is not there to discuss her child, to promote his merits or tout his academic skill. She invites Anna to lunch solely to build a relationship in preparation for the "tutoring" sessions that these parents will offer to her. Nowhere in the conversation does Lara communicate love, affection, or dedication to her child. Nowhere in the conversation does she even mention him.
So I suppose helicopter moms do exist across the boundaries of class or wealth, but for different purposes. My public school helicopter moms seemed intent on securing for their children the most rich and successful educational experience, while the Lakhani's private school moms seem only intent on buying their childrens' grades. This may be just my own bias, though; my parents did a fantastic job of not helicopter parenting, and I definitely have fairly strong feelings against helicopter parents and what they ultimately do to a child. Anyone have any thoughts on the subject? Does anyone from a private school have a counterpoint I may have missed?