Tuesday, April 01, 2008


Oh well, all right. No blue face, and no hair extensions either. But I do feel a sense of freedom right now, having discarded my only private student on the grounds that he kept giving me late notice that he wouldn't be coming (at breakfast this morning - he was on a trip that was arranged ages ago) or - even more annoying - simply not turning up. A bright kid, engaging and essentially well-mannered - but completely scatter-brained and disorganised.

I've commented on this before. His parents, middle-class and highly educated both, know fine how scatty he is. But do they take the trouble to nag him about his obligations? Or even ask him if he's checked in about a lesson if there's any doubt? Or even - shock, horror - tried contacting me themselves to see how he's getting on/apologise/offer an explanation?

No on all counts, I'm afraid. So, on behalf of teachers everywhere who are deemed to be beyond common courtesy - I walked away. And I wrote the letter. It's in the post. And I feel liberated.

"Free at last" ... if you prefer Larkin. Source, anyone?


  1. Possibly 'The Whitsun Weddings'?

  2. Anonymous8:22 PM

    Hi Chris
    You are lucky indeed if your sons did not go through this phase! I recognise it only too well.

    One of ours fits your description more or less, and we have struggled to find the balance between nagging, checking, and facilitating his journey to independence through letting him experience consequences of his apparent inability to take responsibility for himself. I'm afraid we must at times have looked from the outside like parents who did not care, though nothing could be further from the truth and I think, unlike your student's parents, we have at least observed courtesy with his teachers with regard to anticipated absences.

    I'm not critical of your action at all, and you are in fact teaching the lad in question that there are consequences to his approach. However, we will always be grateful to the teachers, school and private, who have stuck with ours, knowing that he would mature eventually, which he seems at last to be doing in short bursts anyway.

  3. Possibly indeed, HOM!

    Dorothy - it is precisely because one of my sons was like this at one stage that I know how much hard work goes into preventing catastrophes. I'm afraid I feel this student has been left far too much to his own devices - which is why I've bent over backwards to accommodate him this far.

  4. A sad day for this lad, to be sure. But, hopefully, he will learn a life lesson in that he cannot go through life in a lapsidaisical manner without consequences. So many young people are indeed left to their own devices as their parents often are busy with their own lives...a sad commentary on the state of families in our modern world. I cannot believe that the parents offered no explanations nor apologies for their son's absentmindedness. Perhaps that speaks volumes in and of itself as to their son's behavior...

    Enjoy your freedom...I can only close my eyes and see my brown-eyed Michelle raising her hands into the air and exclaiming (rather humorously) "Be fwee!"

    Oh, and being an American, we would answer, of course, the old Negro spiritual...

    "Free at last, free at last, thank God Almighty, we are free at last!"
    (I *think* that is right, anyway)

  5. Part of my problems are caused by the kids you describe insisting that they be presented for an exam they believe they can pass... which leads me to a paraphrased answer to your poser... (tenuous link, I know)...

    Free at last,
    And loaded with the sum of all they knew

  6. I'm with Kate on this one, and have Dr King's voice in my brain. Can't imagine anything else.

  7. Interesting cultural influences on the answers to the quote question! You are, of course, all correct, though I was thinking of Larkin's great poem. I wonder which came first, chronologically?