Dawn brings up some really good points. Definitely worth considering. Here’s my (admittedly ranty) response.
1) Parents like the ones portrayed in the article do exist. I agree. Parents who honestly send their kids to school and expect to do nothing in return – or worse yet, abuse the teachers as a great big “thank you”, do exist and they make the teacher’s job much harder. However, making sarcastic remarks about the parents doesn’t help the situation. Nor does it make these kinds of parents more aware of their “stupidity.” I’d wager, it would just piss them off more. The person who wrote the piece might be venting, but they aren’t exactly helping the situation.
2) Teachers are stuck in the middle. Yes. Absolutely. But guess what – they choose to be there. And, I would hope they are choosing to be there to help the children, not to try and make everyone a better parent. Granted, parents who don’t respect the school system might be a major obstacle to teachers being able to do their job. But I question, if it requires that all parents be these wonderful, teacher-abiding angels in order for the system to work, perhaps something is wrong with the system. Maybe, just maybe, the teachers should be pissed at the system, not the parents. The parents are beyond help (at least from the teachers). They’ve gone through the system, it failed to make them upstanding system-respecting parents. Something is seriously wrong if the system is supposed to teach that, and this is the kind of parents these teachers are seeing on a regular basis. Being nasty and claiming that the lack of respect on the parents part has anything to do with the system not working, is accusing the wild horse for not complying when the master does nothing but whip it and complain that it’s not doing its job. The fact that parents are trapped in this system, far more trapped than any teacher, lends itself to at least a certain number of parents who don’t care. Basically, from what this article says, the book explains that schools aren’t succeeding and students aren’t doing better because the parents aren’t behaving. It’s an attempt to convince the
prisoners parents to behave. It’s the system that’s the problem – not the parents. The parents are simply a product of the system.
3) Homeschoolers don’t really get this – Not true. In fact, homeschoolers absolutely get this, that there are parents out there that make it difficult on the system. Hell, homeschooling parents often rank among those parents who “don’t want to get up before 7:30”. The problem isn’t that parents don’t want to get up before 7:30. The problem is that schools demand compliance – and in many ways a compliance that is arbitrary. This isn’t a job. This isn’t something people sign up for. Everyone is required to do this. Of course there are going to be parents out there who don’t give a crap about the schools, and what the schools want. Especially those people who went through the system themselves and got lost. I’ll bet you that these annoying, problematic parents were the same kids that went through the system 5-15 years ago and were tossed around, disrespected, lost, ignored, mistreated, and otherwise considered “too stupid to really pay attention to”. Why would they then respect the schools that they were so disrespected in?
I understand that these parents are a pain in the ass. But there is a reason. And it’s not because they are bad people. They lived a hard life. And were probably unhappy in the very schools they are sending their children to. To expect them to suddenly respect the teachers like little lambs is shortsighted and arrogant.
Simply put, to demand blanket respect from parents, is to make the assumption that the schools have something that is worth respecting. Obviously, to these parents who aren’t respectful, there is nothing at the school to be respected. Instead of being pissed off at the parents, perhaps a search for something that the parents have motivation to respect would be a better solution. Or better yet, give the kids unconditional respect and love, and hope that when THEY get out of school, they will have experienced a reason to keep respecting teachers.
The parent’s role in education, isn’t to be respectful to teachers. It’s to be parents. And if they aren’t being parents, and are instead more interested in themselves, the schools have failed to do their job 5-15 years ago, frankly. And, if this breakdown in family functionality is the true cause in kids failing in school, then perhaps being pissed at the parents isn’t exactly the best solution. How often did a pissed neighbor change the way you kept your lawn? How often did a “loving” family member change your mind about your decisions because they were sarcastic with you? Does increasing the animosity between family members, by saying, “well, we know who you got your a-hole behavior from” ever fix things?
The teacher’s job is to give information and help people learn. To be honest, if the kids don’t want to learn (or can’t because their lives suck so bad), there really isn’t much a teacher can do but be willing to meet the child’s needs when the student comes back and is ready. A teacher can’t force a kid to be ready. A teacher’s job is not a parent. And shouldn’t be. Not when there are 40 kids in a class. A teacher’s job is to be a mentor, a friend, a facilator, a safe place to go for help. But, if a teacher is so busy being pissed off at how bad the parents are, how can they be all these things for the kids? If they are so busy having to cow-tow to the system, how can they be available when the kids really need them?
The system is what is screwed up, not the parents. The parents aren’t any more screwed up than any other time in history. Parents are doing the best they can with what they have. So are the kids. The system, that’s what’s going in circles. It’s a system where nobody has a choice – teachers, students, parents – except in the best of schools. So the only solution is for teachers to try and convince parents that their role is to submit. The fact that the system can’t work without the parents submitting, and the students submitting, and the teachers submitting, is a sign that it’s not “respect” schools are looking for in parents, but submission. Teachers want parents to submit, because they have to. Everyone has to. It’s how it works. In order for children to learn at school, parents have to be perfect. Those poor, poor kids who have parents who are less than the perfect school parents. They are screwed. The kids have no control over their parents’ behavoir, yet, their very success depends on it. Kids’ success depends on things that kids have absolutely zero control over. Kids’ success depends on everyone acquiesce to the process. This is a goal that will never be achievable. Since every single kid has to go to school, to expect that there won’t be a certain percentage (a large percentage in some schools) of completely unhelpful and obnoxious parents is a fantasy. It comes with the territory. We’re educating everyone at school. Including the kids with parents who don’t care.
How about setting up a system where kids can succeed, on their own, without the help of their parents if necessary? How about setting up a system where the kids learn what they need to learn when they are ready, and that’s it? No mandatory homework, no requiring children read at night, no requiring that families have to do the work – but making school a place where kids have the freedom to really learn? Not be herded until they go home where they are supposed to do the real learning? If school was a place like this, it wouldn’t matter if parents are a-holes. Or even if kids missed a lot of school. They would come back the teacher would help them learn. No questions asked. And for the kids who have parents who are involved, then they benefit too. Everyone wins. Well, except perhaps the people who have to prove a school deserves money from the state.
But the system is so bogged down with process, and protocol, that nothing can work unless everyone involved does exactly what they are supposed to do. No wonder some teachers are pissed. I’d be pissed too. But to place the blame on the parents -that’s a defense mechanism of a set of employees who are powerless against their boss, and so look to the clients to make their jobs easier. When in fact, it’s their boss who is putting unrealisting and unfair demands on them.
I don’t envy teachers in the slightest. They are doing one of the toughest jobs on the planet. And often with little reward or acknowledgment. I admire anyone who is willing to stand in front of a class of 40 kids and take responsibility for their learning, even though they aren’t their own kids. In a system that can never be completely problem free. In a country that doesn’t take education (in the real sense, not the “fill in the blank” sense) seriously. I don’t envy teachers. And I thank them for being there, because not many people could do that job at all.
Feel free to give feedback. Remember, on this assignment, there are no wrong answers. (Name calling automatically disqualifies you though.)