Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Trying to Heal while in College? Not Happening for Me

Having taught at a junior college for many years, I've watched college students come and go.  Most of them have baggage, some heavier than others, but all burdened by something.  Stress is usually at the top of the heap, but often the stress is compounded by some other bits of baggage that the students struggle with as well as cope with their homework and labs.

In Left Drowning, author Jessica Park pours on the baggage and then wants readers to know that the teens with heavy emotional scars are still passing their classes, turning in their homework, and generally being successful students.  And as a former English composition instructor, I'm not buying it.

Understandably, Blythe, the main character, has emotional scars from surviving the fire that killed her parents.  Compounding that, Blythe feels guilty for ruining her brother's sports career because she dragged him out of the burning building over a piece of glass that impaired his leg.  All of that I can understand.

What I don't believe is that the reclusive Blythe, who hasn't gotten any help from extended family or friends, is still passing her classes.  In my experience, even students with less baggage than Blythe fail their classes and need help before they can concentrate enough to become successful.

That a group of equally scarred students bring her into their group is no surprise.  But that they all turn out to be successful students is.

I wish this fairytale were true.  But my experience is that it's just a fairytale, and these college students might just as well wait for their pumpkins to turn into coaches as to believe that angst equals passing grades.

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