Sunday, May 11, 2014

It takes a village to raise a child.....or maybe not!

Who is responsible for raising our children?  It’s a question that has surfaced a number of times over the past few months.  You are all aware of the old adage…..“it takes a village to raise a child”.  That’s how it used to be.  Today some parents live in an “us” v. “them” world; “us” being parents and “them” being the school board. So what does parental engagement even mean and are parents actual inhabitants of that village?  Do we as parents want to be engaged…or do we only want to be involved with our children’s education? 

Dr. Debbie Pushor, professor at the University of Saskatchewan:  “With parent involvement, the scripted story of school as protectorate does not change.  Because the school is still setting the agenda and determining what roles parents are to play within that agenda, the hierarchical structure of educators as experts, acting in the best interests of the less-knowing parents, is maintained.” 

Parental engagement looks slightly different:  “Parent engagement, different from parent involvement, is an alternative way to bring teachers and parents together in schools, an alternative possibility for changing the scripted story of school.”

When parents find themselves up against a brick wall and demonstrate apprehension over social policy, sexual education curriculum, bullying situations, the type of food permitted at school etc., what is actually taking place is a lack of desire to sit back and conform to the ways dictated by our educational institution.  They are then met with the offensive and react in a defensive manner.  When this takes place, parents are actually not interested at pointing a finger at individuals within their school board and schools.  Rather, they point their finger at the system.

In a recent post on “Sheila Speaking”:

“Parents don’t understand teaching and learning.
Parents speak in the language of terms and compliance because that’s how we speak to them.
They understand grades, behavior, some of the fundamentals of literacy, and other abstractions like effort, inspiration, success, and failure.
But what if they understood how people learn even half as well as most teachers? What if they understood the pros and cons of certain assessment forms (this isn’t rocket science), the inherent limitations of letter grades (there’s no way they don’t already have an instinct for this), or how to coach critical thinking and observation on a daily basis?
Parents are the sleeping giants in education. Think of them as students with 25 years of life experience added on. If they had any clue how poorly education serves most students (no matter how “successful” the student navigates education in its current form), they’d redirect anger currently pointed at teachers and principals, and point it instead at policymakers, and perhaps even take up the task themselves as entrepreneurs.
Hey, there’s an idea."

I welcome your thoughts on this!