Here's a weird little trendlet I have observed over the years: the tendency for a student to blame their mother for various problems associated with their own attendance and participation in a class.
Two possible hypotheses to explain this phenomenon are:
1 - The students are telling the truth. Moms -- perhaps even helicopter moms -- are organizing things from afar, e.g. scheduling medical appointments and planning travel for their offspring, not caring that their daughter or son may have academic commitments such as (1) attending class, not to mention (2) taking exams. If so, then helicopter moms vastly outnumber helicopter dads (12 : 0, by one recent, unofficial count).
2 - The students are using the mom-excuse because they think it will be more compelling than saying, for example "I forgot about the final exam and got a plane ticket to Nouakchott". This mom-centric excuse may be somewhat related to the mass extinction of grandmothers (at a higher rate than grandfathers) during exam weeks. Do mothers and grandmothers as a concept have more emotional impact?
I always ask the mom-blaming students "Didn't you tell your mother that you have an exam that week?". No, they did not, and she didn't even ask. How sad, but it is ultimately the student's responsibility to manage their own academic schedule.
Note to students: Don't read this paragraph.
One of my colleagues recently gave into a "my mom got me a plane ticket for a short vacation in England during the week of the exam" excuse and constructed a make-up exam for the student. I asked him whether he habitually gave make-up exams, even for non-emergency, recreational reasons like this, and he said no, not usually, but this wasn't the student's fault -- it was his mother's.
Maybe I am just meaner than my colleagues, but maybe my lack of sympathy for the it's-my-mom's-fault reasons for missing an exam will ultimately help my students learn how to be independent people who value academics and who need to communicate better with their mothers.
2 months ago