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Phelan: Some things would be easier without technology

Published: Thursday, Oct. 25, 2012 5:30 a.m. CST

My parents tell me that life has become so much easier since the advent of the computer. Since I don’t know what life was like before the Internet, I have to take their word for it. But I, as a millennial, see things every day that I think would be much easier without technology.

Take, for example, Facebook relationship statuses. The idea to include “single,” “in a relationship,” “it’s complicated,” or a plethora of other options has just made dating more confusing to most people.

Another way that modern-day access to technology makes life harder is through computers. My school has had a program called the Home Access Center for years. As the name implies, it allows my parents or me to access my grades from anywhere, including home, at any time. This might seem wonderful and revolutionary to some parents. “Finally! I can know if little Bobby passed his math test before little Bobby did!” But to kids, it could be used as a form of torture.

I love my parents, and they like to be involved in my schooling. But my mother being able to track every single point that goes into the grade book is extremely frustrating. I know that my parents were not perfect in school. And therefore, looks of disappointment when I don’t ace a test or – oh the horror! – don’t do a five-point homework assignment aren’t really welcome in my life. And I know that many of my friends feel the same way.

I talked to a sophomore friend of mine, and he said that it’s infuriating when he gets in trouble for having an 87 percent in Chemistry Honors. He is working hard for that honors 87 percent, and that isn’t even a final grade.

Another issue with full parental access to my grades is that sometimes my parents don’t fully understand how to use HAC. What seems to boggle their minds, each and every time, is when the grade book says I have a 0 for an assignment I definitely turned in. My mother assumes that I simply refused to write a 200-point essay and plan on failing out of school. What really happened was that my essay is at the bottom of the grading stack, and the teacher has started entering other students’ grades. Because my essay was not entered yet, it shows up as a 0 percent, lowering my grade in the class and upsetting my parents.

I understand that parents need to be involved in their children’s lives. And if HAC or a similar program is consistently showing missing assignments or failing grades, it can be extremely useful to show parents issues. But if it’s being used to nitpick and put even more pressure on students, I think parents should steer clear. Six-week progress reports worked well for years, and if parents want a bi-weekly HAC session, I think its a reasonable arrangement. I just don’t want poor little Bobby’s grades scrutinized before he even gets to see them.

• Courtney Phelan is a senior at Geneva High School. She is an outgoing and energetic young writer who likes to swim, read and participate in general teenage activities. She can be contacted at editorial@kcchronicle.com.

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