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There is something about the current generation of students in school that makes teaching extremely difficult: entitlement. The first few months of my teaching career were eye-opening in terms of this phenomenon. I had one student ask me, "Mrs. Miller, why don't we get paid to go to school? We're forced to be here, so why don't we get paid for it?" I was dumbfounded. We had a long discussion that day about this topic — instead of the discussion on rational and irrational numbers.
This sense of entitlement is such a huge issue with students these days that even Oprah did a special on it: "The Education Debate." In this fantastic special, "Oprah tells the story of a girl living in a hut in South Africa who, when asked what she needed, didn't say food or blankets, but rather a uniform so she could go to school. 'I wonder how many kids you'd have to interview in this country before you could get one to say that,' Oprah says."
The sense of entitlement in this country is astounding. I tried to enforce in my students that education should be looked at as a privilege, not a right, despite what was written into our constitution. Education in the United States is FREE. These kids don't know how lucky they are. Knowledge is power, but as Oprah says, kids in this country are more worried about having the latest pair of Jordan's or the newest iPod or iPhone than they are about getting a good education. In Oprah's special, Robert Martin, executive editor of "The Chicago Defender," blames parents for this phenomenon. I completely agree. I can't tell you how many students I have had who have straight F's and their parents take them on a shopping spree for $600 jeans and other outrageously expensive items of clothing.
I had a student who was out of school for two months for surgery. While she was out, she had a home/hospital teacher to take her school work to her and keep her on track. She did great. When the student returned, she needed a lot of additional help in geometry, and I received numerous e-mails from her mom essentially requiring me to provide one-on-one tutoring for her daughter so she could catch up. She complained to the principal when I said that I could not provide one-on-one tutoring, but could however give her daughter help along with other students.
I'm not sure how to fix this problem, but fortunately we now have a president who did not take his education for granted and does not promote this astounding sense of entitlement so many Americans feel today.
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