The Formidable Dr. William F. Naufftus vs. The Helicopter Parent: something I would like to see.
Dr. Naufftus was a professor I had for English my freshman year of college at Winthrop University. He was a formidable but brilliant man. I had the great misfortune of having selected English as my major coupled with a lofty goal of graduating with an honors degree via the Honors College. This put me in the unique position of having 2 English classes as a first-semester student: a writing course and an honors literature course. Dr. Naufftus taught the honors literature class.
It was a small class. Most at Winthrop were, but this was a particularly small class because it was an honors literature class for freshman, and there weren’t that many students willing to jump into that boat–and soon most of us were trying to jump off. We had quizzes at the beginning of every class. Which is to say we failed quizzes at the beginning of every class. Once, after glancing over our woefully inadequate responses, he looked at us disapprovingly and declared: “I don’t know how you people even got into college much less qualified for an honors class!” He was often disgusted by our general stupidity. Midway through the semester, I was convinced I should change my major, but my academic adviser, the ever-patient Dr. Jo Koster, talked me out of it. But, still, I was fairly convinced I didn’t have the smarts to be an English major.
I complained about that class every day. I pored over my book every night, hoping I’d be able to answer at least one question on one of those quizzes. Fat chance. There was also a fat chance my parents would be calling him to discuss it. Because I didn’t have helicopter parents. I’m pretty sure none of my classmates did either. We were adults. We were in college. We fought our own battles.
I have no idea if a parent has ever dared call Dr. Naufftus, nor do I know for sure what he would say if one did. But I like to imagine that if a helicopter parent called Dr. Naufftus to complain, he would say something to this effect: “Teaching your daughter is akin to casting pearls before swine.” And then hang up. (I say this because that’s what he told us in class one day.)
And if he did, he would be my hero.
For the record, I ended up getting an A in the class–and it meant all that much more.
Do you know about my disclaimer?