I get one or two interview requests every day. I say no to written interviews because if I’m going to write anything I want it to be for my site, not someone else’s. So I tell people I’ll do phone interviews. Then I try to schedule the phone interviews for crazy times like midnight on Tuesday nights when we are driving home from cello lessons.

Recently I got an interview request via email from Thi, a high school student, who said

In Honors English, we’re reading Outliers and then writing an essay on it. We also have to interview a person who fits our definition of success.

Obviously, I chose you. To be mindful of your time, I composed questions as well as answers from some of your blog posts that really stood out to me.

I think that these answers wouldn’t be much different than if I had asked you the questions myself. Also, I think it would be interesting to see yourself through someone else’s eyes via the answers I put. Is this ok with you?

I scanned through the questions and answers and they were great. Clearly Thi knew my blog inside out. And she was right—it was interesting to see how someone else would structure my answers.

I wrote an email back. I was going to be effusive: You saved so much time, you are the smartest interviewer ever, I wish everyone would interview me like this.

But I didn’t say all that. Instead I wrote, “You did a great job. Thank you for saving me so much time.”

Then I got an email from his teacher.

Hello Penelope, 
Thanks for taking the time out of your busy schedule to answer my English student’s questions for her research paper on success.  Being chosen for this interview means that the student sees you as a model for success in some vital, meaningful way.
If you were not interviewed by Thi Nguyen in the past two weeks about your success story, please reply back with “huh??” and accept my apology in advance for having to read this message (I’m simply doing my due diligence and checking for authenticity).
If you were interviewed, no need to reply back. . . 
Thanks so much for supporting this classroom endeavor!

I had to read this email twice. Three times. Because it is so outrageous that I couldn’t even figure out what the teacher was saying at first.

The teacher is emailing me to find out if his student cheated. Here’s why I’m outraged:

1.This email is a total waste of my time. Thi took great pains to make sure I didn’t have to spend extra time on the project and the teacher did the total opposite. The student knows the most important lesson about the project: how to get a busy person to respond back to you. The teacher has no idea how to teach this lesson, but luckily the student is way ahead.

2. The teacher is so disrespectful and undermining of Thi. I now have a relationship with Thi. I will remember her name and respond quickly when another email comes. The teacher’s email belittles Thi, questions Thi’s morals, and makes all the questions seem like they were asked to earn a grade. Which we know they were not, because, it turns out that Thi has been emailing me with questions for three years.

3. Thi is doing great self-learning and the teacher is ruining it. The teacher is getting involved in something that Thi is managing fine single-handedly. The teacher is degrading relationships Thi established. The teacher is implying that Thi would not be a self-directed learner without the external push of an assignment. It’s pathetic.

The assumption that adults need to mediate relationships that kids have is nuts. Thi’s instincts are so much better than the teachers for how to reach out to people. Teachers live in a school bubble where they rarely have to interact in a meaningful way with business people. But most kids they teach will not go into academia. So why do so many parents leave their kids stuck, held back by teachers who choose to exist outside the work world?