Friday, July 29, 2011 opinion

I read a report the other day online. I wish I could find it again to reference it, but I can't. Basically, it was giving stats about how low our nations schools are compared to so many other countries in the world. I'm not sure from where these stats were gathered, but I'm guessing it's standardized testing of some kind or another. And our nation wasn't just number 4 or 5...we were around number 30 in some areas. OUCH!

The author of the article shared what we, as parents, should be doing to remedy this "situation." He (she?) said that we should be demanding more from the schools, teachers, administrators, etc. Frankly, I couldn't disagree more.

Yes, I do believe that there are some teachers that are in this career because they think it's an easy paycheck...holidays off...weekends off...summers off...union protection. And, yes, there are administrators who really don't care. And schools that don't work at their full potential. And staff that simply need to retire. But I think these scenarios are the exception.

I believe that the majority of school staff are highly dedicated, continually striving to learn new methods to challenge their students. I believe they are often faced with unreasonable expectations...too much material to cover and too much time trying to manage their classroom, leaving even less time to cover this ever increasing amount of material, some of which has NO business being taught in the classrooms in the first place!

I started thinking about decades ago...when there were still one-room schoolhouses...with one teacher who often didn't even attend college...children of varying resources...and even shorter school years due to the more demanding need of keeping children home to work the fields, etc.

Compare that with teachers today...needing Master's degrees, endless seminars and inservices and meetings, additional university courses just to keep their teaching certificates.

So why then, when we have "more" now, do students keep falling further and further behind? What have we not addressed? Maybe we should cram more into the tiny little ones at an earlier age. Nope...tried that, too. Doesn't work. Really...why does a 3 year old need to know what a parallelogram is? And why do kindergarten children need to know how to read, and all their numbers to 100? Whatever happened to being a child...graham crackers and chocolate milk snack, going home to eat lunch with mommy, and a nice long nap? Do you know that many European countries do not start their children in formal education until they are 6 or 7 years old? Hmmm...

Here's a thought I've not read about...what about parents? Where are parents in this mix? I think we're on to something. Has anyone in any place of authority told parents to step up the plate to improve education? And this does not mean putting your child into a million activities to "boost their brain" or push them so hard they have a nervous breakdown. I'm talking discipline. How about teaching kids some good ole respect for authority? A strong work ethic? Natural consequences? Loving others first? Obedience!!!!!!!

That's what I think the solution is. Let's get back to the basics of parents taking responsibility for their kids, and stop pointing fingers at others. Maybe, if your child is "in trouble" at school, you've missed the mark at parenting. Not always, but has it ever crossed your mind? Maybe it's not little Billy's teacher that being mean...but it's little Billy who has a sassy attitude and doesn't know how to show respect. Maybe it's not little Susie's teacher giving her too much homework, but little Susie is being lazy and chatty during the school day.

So, parents...step up to the plate. You decided to have children, so act like parents and not their friends. You're not your child's friends! Repeat: YOU'RE NOT YOUR CHILD'S FRIENDS! You are their parents. And maybe, just maybe, if parents tried this, we would see not only an improvement in education, but in society overall. What's your take on this?


Kristin said...

Couldn't agree with you more. I know you've seen almost every side of the education system.

We've done the homeschool thing and the public school thing. We have three very different children academically. The thing that has helped them all be successful students, even the one with a learning disability, is discipline. They wouldn't think of breaking school rules, disrespecting a teacher or not complete their homework.

We've wrestled our way through the past few years of public school, but that has more to do with the politics than the teachers. I will say that sometimes educators, feeling the pressure of so much to do, shoot themselves in the foot when the inadvertantly pass that stress on to the students.

Lulu said...

I could not agree more! I also think the problem is not just discipline, but parents who have children because it's the thing to do, however, they don't actually want to raise them, they actually don't want to be inconvenienced by them. We've become such a selfish society that what "I" want comes before anything or anyone else. Parents want to resume their single and childfree lifestyles even once they do in fact have children. In my opinion, this is the root of the problem.

By the way, I love your blog! I'm a homeschooling mom of two youngsters and my husband and I are embarking on adoption. I discovered you one day while searching for adoptive families experiences. Thank you for sharing your life with a stranger like me!

jim durance said...

Angie:Beautifully written and very factual. this should be reprinted and sent to all school districts.
uncle jim

Anja said...

As you know, we have experienced both the american as well as the german school system and there are many differences between the two, some of which you mention. Nevertheless, bottom line I could not agree more with you. It is not the schools job to solve all problems, it is parents first and then the school will be only too willing to help, no matter what country or system you are in!

amyhusted said...

Yep - I totally agree. I do need a couple days of Angie's bootcamp for my little guy who seems to have some sassiness. Are you willing? It could be some extra $$$$$ coming your way, or maybe just some friendly advice? Come on girlfriend.