Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Flashes from the Past: 'Helicopter Parents'?

Helicopter parents? Helicopter parents are the nickname that some school folks have coined for parents who 'hover' and swoop down to rescue their children so - the idea goes- they don't learn good traits of perseverance or how to grapple with problems themselves. How do these Parents from the Past measure up?

This protective dad flew into his daughter's classroom one day and scolded the teacher for giving his daughter a homework assignment. Because she was already in school for six hours a day, he reasoned, she shouldn't have to do any additional work at home. When this young lady told her mother that a teacher was 'emotionally ugly', her mother came to her rescue, and told her she didn't have to attend that class.

Later on this gal became interested in ice skating, so her parents bought her the best skates and skating outfit they could afford...and every day there was good weather, they said she could ice skate instead of go to school.

Who did this woman become? This was Barbara McClintock, very hard-working and internally-driven Nobel Prize winner in genetics (1983, for 'Jumping Genes') who worked at lab bench science until the age of 89 (James Watson once told one of us that she was always prowling around Cold Spring Harbor at night working in her lab). As it turned out, McClintock didn't really get jazzed about schoolwork until high school, when she discovered she really liked scientific problem solving.

Barbara McClintock
No escape from 'helicopter parents'

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