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Reading Gunn’s Golden Rules So You Don’t Have To: The Snowflake Antidote

Posted in Transfer Your Skills by Caroline Roberts on December 10, 2010
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Image Source,Photobucket Uploader Firefox ExtensionTim Gunn is best known for his mentoring skills in the Project Runway workroom. He has helped designers do their best work without doing all their work for them. He offers guidance, but success is in the hands of the designer. It seems that he cultivated a similar hands-off attitude at Parsons because some of his students suffered from other authority figures being too hands-on:

In my later years of teaching, I started to see a disturbing trend: students who couldn’t function without their parents’ help. They were so overpraised and overprotected that they were incapable of handling any problem, whether it was dealing with a teacher they didn’t like, sharing space with a roommate, or struggling with a class for which they didn’t have an affinity.

Gunn offers advice for teachers coping with snowflake students who can’t manage themselves: flunk ’em. His logic is that if they’re not trying, they obviously want to quit. So, do them a favor:

[On a fellow teacher who felt guilty about flunking a talented student who stopped showing up to class] As I expected, we never heard from the student. Ever. So the F stood. And we all learned something: the teacher wanted the student to succeed more than the student did.

People send each other messages all the time through their behavior, and the message here was, Fail me. I don’t want to be in school anymore. Instead of admitting that she wanted to get out of fashion, she forced the faculty to make her decision for her. From a faculty member’s point of view, I have this refrain: Why should I want you to succeed more than you do?

When I don’t believe that “kids these days” are all lazy, entitled snowflakes out to torture their TAs, I think that students and college teachers can benefit from Gunn’s advice: Take a step back, and let the student choose if she wants to succeed or fail.

And, in the final installment of the Tim Gunn philosophy, why you should listen to him–because he and Bob Sutton have the same basic message.

Image of Tim Gunn and Heidi Klum by Michael Williams from Wikimedia Commons under a Creative Commons license.

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2 Responses to 'Reading Gunn’s Golden Rules So You Don’t Have To: The Snowflake Antidote'

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  1. It’s official: I am going to put this book on my Christmas wish list!

  2. Anthea said,

    It does sound good actually. Yes, I want this book for Christmas too.


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