Last weekend, we were out with friends and as does happen with parents, the conversation turned to our children and school, homework and teachers. (fortunately we have moved past the years of talking about sleeping patterns, bowel movements and eating schedules!) A number of us have children in the same grade but in different schools across the Greater Toronto Area so we compared what our children are learning, their teachers, etc. I would expect a difference between teachers – as everyone has their own style. But what a variance there seems to be by school and by school board!
One school in Oakville has student led parent-teacher interviews were the students explain to their parents – in french! – what they are learning with input by the teacher and then the parents can ask questions. I heard about varying degrees of technology being introduced into schools and expected for homework. One school uses online tools where students can read a book out loud online at home, record their reading and the teacher can then listen to the recording online and help the student in the classroom. While this sounds awesome – what happens if the children don’t have access to a computer at home?
A number of the moms shared experiences about their children in older grades (4 and up) and how much or little our children are being challenged in the classroom.The parents discussed how vital an engaged teacher is – the teacher makes all the difference on how much or little the children are challenged. One mom who is a teacher said “we underestimate children’s capability of absorbing and understanding concepts”.
This conversation has stayed with me over the last week. Can we expect teachers, with shrinking resources who are stretched in a day, to be able to plan to challenge students? Have these teachers themselves been challenged to think vs execute? My observation is that the more a parent is involved in their child’s educational development the more they succeed. But is this a good thing? If a child’s parent is sitting with her every night doing homework how do they learn to think independently? Does the child become reliant on the parent and the parent becomes their security blanket – protecting them from failing?
So when I read this article “Stop Teaching Our Kids to Be Employees, Start Educating Entrepreneurs”, Brad McCarty’s comments struck a cord with me because I believe what he says is true. But whose “job” is it to teach and challenge our children? I want to see both teachers and parents contribute equally – one has to enable the other. Who is going to start?
Will parents stop handcuffing teachers by telling them not to use red pens to mark papers or giving them homework or encouraging them to think? Will teachers send home work with clear explanations of what is to be done and why and what has been explained to the child in the classroom so the parents know that if their child was listening in class that they would know what to do? I realize there are lots of chasms in the above as situations vary by child, by teacher, by classroom, by family, by environment but let’s stop the madness and work together to improve the situation. There are so many outstanding tools available to us (read another great article “In 2011 How The Internet Revolutionized Education“) – parents and educators that let’s figure out how to maximize their use to maximize our children’s potential.
If you bungle raising your children, I don’t think whatever else you do matters very much.