Monday, September 12, 2011

Mags Said: Education = Teachers + Parents

 With back to school time I have been thinking a lot about education and what it entails.  We had always thought about home schooling.  Sean and I were both bored in school and Robbie is a very bright child.  Home schooling just wasn't an option and we wanted to make sure that Robbie had lots of social interaction.  Sean and I were both shy as children, I have out-grown it more then Sean has.  Robbie is a social butterfly and we try to keep him active and social.

I am on the School Activity Committee at Robbie's school.  With seeing the background stuff to education I have learned a lot.  The biggest thing I have learned is that for schools to be really effective that parents need to be involved!  When I was a kid it was expected that teachers taught everything that was needed for kids to know.  In today's world that model of education no longer works.

Parents need to be involved with their kids from day one.  We need to ensure that our children are ready to learn.  When teachers send homework home it needs to be completed.  Parents need to make sure their children are reading daily.  Most of Robbie's homework consisted of nightly reading.  For every 20 nights Robbie would get a positive referral to the Principal's office.  There he would get a certificate, a pencil and a toy.  In kindergarten Robbie received 12 referrals!   We put them on wall to remind Robbie what a great job he was doing.

When I suggested this topic Sean laughed and asked if I was thinking of someone in particular who needed this message.  We found out that one of Robbie's classmates was referred to take Kindergarten again as she did not even know her alphabet at the end of June.  Homework was never sent back to school (tracing letters and colouring pictures) but suddenly over the summer the mom was going to make sure her child was ready for Grade 1.  My thought at the time (and it is still my thought), if the parent couldn't be bothered with teaching her child in the first 5 years was she really going to do anything in 2 months.  I guess time will tell but I have to say that if my child is held back because I child that is not ready for the work of Grade 1 is in the class that I will be angry.  Actually, I know that won't happen as the teachers at Robbie's school make sure that he is challenged.  I know this takes extra effort on the teachers part and we are very grateful that they do this for our son.

Knowing that Robbie loves to learn and experiment we make sure to buy educational toys (as well as fun ones).  When Robbie watches tv it is mostly the Discovery Channel with mom or dad watching along.  We are not the type of parents that want Robbie to be a super kid that goes to University as a young teen, we just want to encourage his love of learning.  Often I tell Robbie that I don't know the answers to a question but we can look up information and learn together.  Robbie is still of the opinion that mommy and daddy know everything even when we tell him we don't.  The day will come when he learns that we don't know everything but hopefully by that time he knows that we will answer his questions and will help him find answers to things we don't know.

New desk.

Our First Grader on the first day of school.

Sean Said: Eduation = Teachers + Parents

When the very notion of public education was in its infancy, attendence was optional, teachers were unqualified, and there was no expectation of results. Since that time there has been a steady increase in all of these areas; even in my lifetime there has been noticable changes in the role of education.

At the time I started school (in 1979) the general public widely agreed that a child should be made to stay in school until high school. However, completing high school was still seen by many as optional, and post secondary education was still considered to be the realm of academics.

However, while not everyone might have seen the value in school, some parents certainly did. These parents helped their children, encouraged their children, and demanded their children do their best. After attendence, parental encouragement is the greatest determining factor of success in school. (and seeing as attendence is frequently a function of the parents, one might argue parenting is #1 and #2). The children of these parents were fortunate, and were statistically far more likely than their peers to finish high school, go to college, earn degrees, and achieve success in their careers.

But then in the 80s a huge push began to get all kids to finish high school. Public perception was changed through massive awareness campaigns. School programing was changed to give greater options to those who previously struggled to earn a diploma. Eventually (much later), laws were changed to effectively force children to be in school during school hours.

Then, once it became expected that all children would finish high school, the next big push began - to get all high school graduates to enroll in post secondary studies.

We live in a world today where very few jobs don't have college programs dedicated to them. We live in a world that is very quickly moving to demanding that anyone who wants to enter a profession first get training in it. By the time children entering school this fall graduate, there will be very few jobs available that don't require at least a six month college course.

School teachers know this. They know that the education system is now expected to make nearly all students achieve what was once the realm of the elite. They know that the only way to lift the whole population upwards is to get the parents of all students to do what was once done only by the parents of those same elite - take an active role in the child's education.

The sad thing is that there are still many parents who wish to resist the demands the school is placing on them - even though the school is only asking them to do what they should have been doing already, for their child sake.

It is a lot easier to be apathetic, than to care. It is a lot easier to be angry at the school for placing demands than to take an active role in educating your child.

Success always demands sacrifice.

It is unfortunate that not all can see this, and it is very sad that some children will grow up to live hard lives because their parents could not recognize the importance of their own role in the children's education.