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When The Teacher Is Wrong And Your Child Is Right

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When to step in between your child and his teacher? What to do when what you want to teach your kids about the world is at odds with the message the educator sends?

That's the dilemma facing Eva Wisnik, a mother of three in suburban New York, and she and her son have asked me to ask Parentry readers for advice.

She writes:

Today in school, Jake, age 11, was asked to write down on an index card what he wanted to be when he grew up. He wrote down "happy". The teacher told him in front of the class that he missed the point of the assignment. What do you think of this response?

The dilemma raises both practical questions and existential ones. Of course the teacher was expecting an answer like "doctor" or "firefighter," and I have always cringed a bit when adults have asked my children their life's career plans. It has always felt like a way to cram big spirits into small holes.

Add to that bias, this one: in seventh grade my social studies teacher insisted that a landmark I had stood upon just months earlier simply didn't exist. I remember the feeling of helplessness -- my truth against her power.

And yet, in an age when parents swoop in far too often, resulting, we are told, in a generation that is coddled and entitled, is this the kind of fight you want to pick? Especially when life will be full of moments where there is an expected way to answer. Maybe it is better for them to start learning how to meet those expectations now?

Yes, I think it was the teacher who "missed the point of the assignment," not Jake.

But what should his mother do about that?

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