Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The truth hurts

One of the fantasies a teacher has is the ability to tell the truth. When it comes to writing recommendations, we outrightly lie because we're too chicken- hearted to let the kid go to a lesser university even if he or she deserves it. Most of the time, it's an attitude thing rather than an academic thing and that sits much more uneasily on my conscience.

If only I could say "xxx is a pompous bastard who is too competitive for his/her own good, has no qualms about getting to the top by climbing over others and is absolutely unrepentant when told that his/her attitude stinks and it requires a full make over".

Instead, I'll probably have to say "xxx was a good student who was very focussed in his/her academic pursuits. Single-minded determination has been shown and xxx has never allowed anything to stand in the way of achieving it. Xxx is also a strongly independent learner and can be counted on to do his/her best. "

See, with the latter, the kid doesn't end up sounding so bad and the uni would probably look upon the recommendation quite favourably. Unfortunately, I am in the business of getting the students to university, I do after all work for a pre-university institution and the unwritten part of my job description includes plumping up recommendations that otherwise would cause the kid difficultt getting a job even at the local McDonald's.

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Ondine tossed this thought in at 11:23

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