I had someone come to see me today with an inquiry about the literacy class (mostly 4 and 5 year olds) which I run. The brochure explains the program we use and the progression within it, along with a timeline which is clearly labelled as "for reference only" because individual students vary, and going at a set pace regardless of the students' ability to follow it isn't how teaching works. Some kids go faster and some slower. As anyone with a speck of common sense would expect.
This woman wanted to enroll her son in the standard 16-week program, which pretty much covers all regular monosyllabic words plus a few dozen of the irregular but highly common sight words. She wanted to know if I could speed it up. I explained that some students do end up finishing it a few weeks earlier than the quoted 16 weeks, but that it depends on the individual student and their aptitudes. This wasn't good enough--she wasn't interested in him (possibly) finishing in 13 or 14 weeks. No, she wanted him to do a 16-week course in 2 weeks.
I made it very clear that to go this fast would be to his absolute detriment, and that rushing things would only ensure that he learnt none of it properly. Going slowly and actually learning it trumps sprinting through and picking up next to nothing. It would be a waste of everyone's time, and of her money. He'd be much better off just doing the usual first 2 weeks of the 16 week program. At least then he'd learn something. But she wasn't interested in this. It was the entire course she wanted.
Her: "But I want it to only be 2 weeks."
Me: "In that case, he'll learn next to nothing."
Her: "No, I want him to learn it."
Me: "Then it will take closer to 16 weeks."
Her: "16 weeks is too long. I want it to be 2."
Me: "Okay, but then he won't learn anything."
Her: "No, he has to learn it all."
We went around like this in circles a few times before I realised that she either wasn't getting it or was completely unaware that when I said "impossible" I meant "impossible," rather than, "I'm reluctant so you'll have to haggle." In the end, I made it clear: it's either 16 weeks, or her son learns nothing. There is no third option. She should tell her decision to the receptionist. I excused myself and walked off while she was mid-reply.
The receptionist told me later that she'd then tried the same argument with him. He explained very tersely that, although our policy states that we don't turn away anyone (excepting a few medical-type things), he was willing to do the paperwork to change that just for her.
I feel so sorry for her son. A few things she said in our brief talk made it unfortunately clear that the reason she wanted to rush the course was to be able to show off to her friends. Any parent who actively tries to throw their child's education in the rubbish just so they can brag for 2 minutes makes me shudder.