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Rewarding Behavior, Part 2

| Learning | October 3, 2013

(In high school, I was wrongly kept off of the honor roll. When this was corrected, it embarrassed a few of my teachers, and they never forgot. A few years later, I’m at my first year of college, and my sister is at her first year of high school. I’m doing quite well in my classes, and she can’t help but update my former teachers on my progress. But her updates annoy my former math teacher, and he calls a parent-teacher conference with my mother, under the pretense that my sister is struggling.)

Mother: “So, you called this conference today to talk about my daughter. I do know that math has always been one of her more difficult subjects, so if there’s anything we can do at home to help her.”

Teacher: “Actually, I think the main problem with your daughter is your son. He’s being a very bad influence on her.”

Mother: “Really? How so?”

Teacher: “Well, your daughter keeps going on and on about how well your son is doing at [college]. I don’t think that your son getting into some liberal arts college is an accomplishment to be proud of.”

Mother: “I beg your pardon?”

Teacher: “I mean, your son was supposed to be some kind of super-genius, right? If that’s true, why isn’t he going to some ivy-league college down in the States?”

Mother: “I’m sorry, but you called this conference to talk about my daughter. I don’t see what my son has to do with it.”

Teacher: “Don’t worry about your daughter. She’s doing fine. The real concern, I think, is your idiot son who wasn’t good enough to get into Princeton.”

Mother: *getting very angry* “Look. My son’s grades were good enough to get into any college he chose. After he did all the research, he determined that [college] was best for his budget and career goals. I don’t need to defend his choice of school to your or anyone. Now, you called this meeting to talk about my daughter.”

Teacher: “Whoa! Touchy! I guess Harvard telling your son to hit the bricks is still a sore spot in your house.”

Mother: “We’re done here.”

(My mother storms out of the classroom. Halfway down the hall, she hears my former math teacher calling after her.)


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