Your Grandma does not do Wiki!

Life is like a cheeseburger: the sloppier you are, the more likely you will pay for it dearly. Many of us have forgotten to submit our homework assignments or even cheated on them. For each crime there was always an excuse or a lie, like my dog ate my homework, or it grew arms and legs and walked off. The second one happens to be the standard excuse my former high school science teacher used during my days there. And nine times out of ten, the culprits pay the price for it with a nice juicy red mark in the grade book- either a six in German or an F in America.
Yet in today’s world of education, we are seeing two trends that are driving teachers to forget that they are teachers and become Homer Simpson when he strangles Bart: Wiki-ing papers to achieve better scores and using grandmas as scapegoats for getting away with their crimes or even avoiding participating in classes. Here’s a classic example of what I meant based on the most recent experience I had during my practical training at a German Gymnasium:
A 14-year old eighth grader, who is average in his grades in class, submits an essay on a city in California, where 85% of his paper consisted of information copied from Wikipedia, an online encyclopedia containing information and photos on tens of millions of terms in at least 50 different languages, including German and (in this case,) English. This was quickly spotted during the corrections and confirmed by my colleague and mentor, who taught this group and was quick to fail him.  Upon confronting the kid, he used the excuse that his grandma helped him with the homework.
His grandma! Really?
This was the fifth time a grandma was used as an excuse in a class where I either taught or observed. Yet, I’ve heard of other excuses where a grandma was used to get away with either cheating, slacking off or learning a subject. Some of the excuses I’ve heard so far include the following:
Can I leave early as I have to prepare a rock concert at my grandma’s church?
Can I leave early as I want to attend my grandma’s rock concert at the church?
I stayed at my grandma’s and forgot to pack my homework.
My grandma forgot to bring the homework to school.
“My grandma told me the story about (….),” when in all reality, he copied the information from Wikipedia after being asked some questions about the topic and he struggled to answer even one question correctly.
I stayed at my grandma’s and left my paper at home-  This one actually happened to me once in high school, and the teacher was rather forgiving, because a blizzard crippled traffic, forcing school to be cancelled for a couple days. But assuming this is in a Mediterranean climate like it is in Germany, (….)
I have to leave early to help my grandma prepare for a social event at church (when in all reality, he left to join his friends for a beer at a bar nearby).
If my grandma was alive today and heard even one of those excuses, that kid would have received a pair of black eyes, making him look like Ozzie Osbourne the next day and for the days to come as well.  So in order to clear up any misunderstandings, let me inform you what a grandma really does, speaking from the experience of having had one for the first 31 years of my life.
Grandma’s do NOT wiki.  Many of the grandmothers today are not very forthcoming about any forms of computer technology, even the internet, because they are very complicated to use, and they take privacy very seriously. For the first one, many of them are used to print media, like newspapers and magazines, plus the traditional letter writing and telephoning. Granted there are some who are more willing to try using the internet, as they have never used it before, but with as many links to different websites and the questionable content in some of them- even in Wikipedia- it is understandable that many of them are not willing to make use of the internet as the younger generation does, because navigating the World Wide Web can be a pain.  Furthermore, when adding the social networking, to the mix, many of them take privacy very seriously. That means unlike many of us, who post comments and links to stories for others to see, especially on facebook, many of them would prefer to meet and socialize in person, because it is more entertaining than to post something in the social networking scene.
Grandma’s do polka and country, NOT rock and roll: Unless you have one growing up with Jimi Hendrix and the Rolling Stones, many grandmas grew up with music from the 50s and 60s, where polka, country music, jazz  and even some the earliest form of rock music, with the likes of Elvis Presley. I have yet to meet someone who is partial to Five Finger Death Punch, Disturbed and Alice in Chains, just to name a few. If you know of one who loves today’s rock music, send me a line and we’ll do an interview.
Grandma’s do NOT tutor, but tell stories:  It is rare to have one that is a tutor unless that person was really good at a subject and willing to help out. Mine was good in math, but was even better at telling stories about the family history, a characteristic that many grandmas have. These oral histories are important in helping the person identify himself with the family, let alone learn about the history of the family and the regions where they grew up, and how they made a difference in the lives of many. Many grandmas like mine, gave us an incentive to track down the family history even further, yet these stories have a hidden meaning- to teach us the morals of life, which is what is right and what is wrong. They’re really good storytellers.
Grandma’s are armed with the Bible and know who is naughty and who is nice.  If one lies, says the Lord’s name in vain, or does something that is considered illegal, you can bet that a lecture will be in store that will be long and torturous, but in the end, the person will become totally different than before. This is speaking from experience.
Grandmas can be paranoid but for a good reason.  They have collected a great deal of experience in knowing what is good and what is fattening. Even more so is when encountered tragedies affected their lives. That is why when you, as a member of the younger generation, want to experiment with something that is unknown, do not be surprised if they give you a lecture similar to what German chancellor Konrad Adenauer went with his principles: “No room for experiments.”  Nine times out of ten, they are right.
And lastly, Grandmas are there to make you feel at home, to help you when you need it most, and to help show who you are and what you should be.  They can do the unthinkable but the very best. They can awe you with the best homemade recipes. And they enjoy your hospitality when you visit them.  
Using your grandma as an excuse for getting away with your wrong-doing  is not only a sign of not taking responsibility for your actions, but deferring it to her shows disrespect towards her and what she does for you. We seem to have a major issue of people (especially of the younger generation) avoiding the responsibilities for wrong-doing for fear that they would end up being humiliated in front of the public. Yet this humiliation serves as a lesson for those committing a crime and makes an example of that person. After all, we are responsible for our actions and for taking care of ourselves. We are the ones setting examples for others who are following in our footsteps and will eventually take over our jobs when we retire. Deferring responsibility for our actions, regardless of whether it is in school or in society, has no place, and for those doing it, revenge will happen in the long term and it will be sweet.
So as a teacher, here’s my word of advice to you: don’t defer but take responsibility. Don’t blame others for your problems but deal with them. Don’t complain but do your job. And lastly, don’t abuse your grandma but embrace her and her stories. After all, someone will want to write about you someday, and that future author would like to see the person who has these characteristics and not those who run away all the time. For some of you, I know you are too young to understand this, but you will someday, especially if this lecture comes from your own grandma. And if you ever defer responsibility to your grandma, do not be surprised if you get a black eye from her for it.

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