My daughter was in a tinderbox. I wanted to step in to help, but if I did, would it explode and destroy her chances of passing her first college class?
Hannah had been working overtime to try and make the grade on her English paper in which she was arguing against the acceptance of homosexuality and gay marriage.
It was not going well with her in her class, and I was watching her put in exorbitant amounts of time.
The teacher did not agree with Hannah. I was not sure she would ever give my daughter a good grade on a paper she clearly did not agree with.
I was in Michigan for an Acquire the Fire speaking engagement when the challenging month of paper writing came to a climactic finish. I was at the Ford Museum with my traveling buddies, Lydia and Josiah, when I realized my phone was almost out of battery power. That's when I received Hannah's desperate call.
"Mom, I just got the final suggestions from my teacher. I only have a few hours to submit the final draft and she is still saying my logic is falling apart! What am I going to do? Should I just scrap the paper? But how can I do that when I only have a few hours? Mom, I don't want to fail!!!!!"
I calmed her down the best I could and asked her to forward me the comments. I said I would take a look and call her back.
Now remember, she had already gone waaaaay beyond the amount of effort I was certain anyone else had done for this assignment and the teacher was well aware of Hannah's views. As I read her final comments, my temperature began to rise.
I had no idea what else one would argue IF one was to argue that the book should be banned except for Hannah's arguments. Her logic looked solid to me. And her documentation was in line. Even as someone with graduate level experience and publishing documentation experience, I couldn't figure how Hannah could be much clearer!
Maybe it was time for her teacher to hear from mom. I had to send a first draft if I was to send one at all. See what you think of my note......
I so appreciate your class that my junior in high school student is allowed to enroll in. Thank you for your thoughtful feedback that is making her a stronger writer.
I am writing you to ask clarification of her current writing assignment. She came to me today concerned that she is not able to complete the assignment in a satisfactory manner. I've been watching the progress and work on this paper for the last couple of weeks. I was pleased that she chose the topic from the list that you suggested. This is of course a very controversial and heated issue.
As I understand it, the topic she chose was on a list of suggestions you provided. I am assuming that your students are free to choose either opposing viewpoint in their papers.
As I've watched Hannah shore up her research, I think you've made some very viable suggestions for her. However I'm confused as to what further evidence you would be asking her to provide related to the issue of homosexuality. The nature of the suggested topic will, of course, involve fundamental differences of view that will cause the issue itself to seem inflammatory. As I have looked with her at the issues of the origin of homosexuality, the research is definitely divided. Are you wanting her to state the research on both sides? Both the research that suggests a genetic origin which of course does not line up with the argumentation of her paper, and the research that says that it is environmental? If so (which I have not personally done in an argumentative assignment) where would that be placed properly?
She's now down to a few hours to make the deadline. And I'm not sure that she is clear as to how to pass the assignment correctly. I feel that she's gone way above the minimal requirements for the number of citations indicated so I would like to help her be able to succeed.
Thanks for your help.
I thought it was time for the teacher to know someone was behind this student watching the saga.
But would my involvement backfire? Tune in next time for the results!
Image source: United States Department of Energy
You can find the other parts of this series here: