This story on CNN sparked my thinking. Read “what teachers really want to tell parents“.
After reading the above I remembered coming across this quote and it holds so much truth.
“Educated” – a demonstrated ability to listen carefully, to think critically, to evaluate facts rigorously, to reason analytically, to imagine creatively, to articulate interesting questions, to explore alternative viewpoints, to maintain intellectual curiosity and to speak and write persuasively.
Here’s where I might come off as “preachy”. Sorry.
Our educational system has kinks in its armor but it is not completely broken. The public needs to look at the real problems and solve them with honest inspection. The sad reality is over the last 30 years we have increased spending on education without increasing the results. There are many reasons and factors to be debated why. But at the core of our educational system is the student, the teacher, and the parent.
You often hear the sentiment to get rid of “bad” teachers. Yes. We can all agree. Let’s get rid of bad teachers. But first we have to define what a bad teacher is. Most of all don’t define a bad teacher by the scores of the students. Results will vary. Let’s get rid of bad teachers like getting rid of bad cops, bad investment brokers, bad “fill in the blank”. But the reality is that the “bad teacher” is the super minority. There are far more good and great teachers in our schools. For every “bad teacher” you will have 10 times as many great teachers who take the extra time and effort to show your child some attention they need as students.
There are also bad parents. Bad parents present the greatest threat to public school classroom. Bad parents can come in all socio-economic environments. The uneducated single mom who scrapes to get by and looks at the school system as a daycare to the Doctor/Lawyer/Engineer who views grade school with arrogance because he has more education than the 3rd grade math teacher. The other “bad” parent (not really bad as much as annoying) is the helicopter parent who is too involved and gets in the way.
These are not good situations for the student/teacher dynamic. What is a bad parent? 1. Apathetic to the learning process. 2. Lack of discipline over their child that spills into the school. These are a couple qualities. This list could be bigger, ask any teacher. The cause and effect could be expanded upon by the psych community but on the surface parents need to be involved in the school process and support the teachers/administration. In a classroom of 30 kids, 1 disruptive student causes a teacher to divert attention from the other 29 students and deal with the discipline problem. This obviously takes away from the effectiveness of the classroom.
What happened to the day when parents blindly stood behind the teachers? Today it seems more parents blindly stand behind the child and fight the teacher and administration without reviewing the individual situation. That is too bad. This creates an overly entitled student/child who will fly the nest into adulthood and play the victim card at every life hardship.
The US is often compared to China in terms of scores. Its true that China is ahead. Our American culture has a lot to blame. Chinese kids live in an environment of fewer freedoms and put a lot emphasis on their education to be able to partcipate in their communist society mostly backed by parents who emphasize education.
American kids fall into 2 camps. Either they poverty stricken and deal with the depression/oppression of that existence or they are wealthy/affluent kids and look ahead to a trust fund (varying degrees) just getting by with their education. I realize I painted that with a wide brush and there are exceptions to each.
The upside is that we have public school system that provides the infrastructure for education no matter your economic status. Teachers play a part. They are passionate about what they do. They love your kids too. They want to see them succeed. But parents are the bigger part to a successful student. Parents need to know what is being taught and be sure that they put effort into ensuring their kids are doing the work.
In the book “Freakonomics” they studied the premise of good students who grew up in homes with books. The hypothesis is that kids who have access to books become better students. The comparisons were suburban kids with books in the home and urban kids who did not. The surprising outcome was not that the books were the factor to good students but moreso that the parents living in an affluent neighborhood/city are more educated (college degree) and put an emphasis on education. The study also found a common denominator in the good students from urban areas where parents took their kids to the public library when they were young for story times and general reading. Both scenarios have involved parents.
Why do Charter schools produce better results? It’s not that they hire better teachers or have newer books. It is successful because the student is put in the school by parents who want better for their child. An involved parent who made the effort.
Parents, with all this said… “education” does not mean every child goes to college and becomes a doctor, lawyer, or cures cancer. Learning a trade and becoming successful at is just as productive to our society. Loving what you do is important too. It is the parents job to guide our kids into their interests and help them have a sense of purpose.
No matter if you have a college degree, or you are a union tradesman, you have a place in our society. The very structure you live and work within took individuals who can think critically, to evaluate facts rigorously, to reason analytically, to imagine creatively.