Can We Please Stop Asking Schools To Parent Our Children!
I remember when I was teaching a Grade two class many years ago a concerned parent requested an appointment to come and see me. We both sat down in the tiny junior school chairs to have a chat about little “Johnny.”
As the mum struggled to find the words to say, I was left wondering what this meeting was all about. Her son was a great student, well adjusted, had lots of friends and didn’t seem to be struggling with any particular topics.
“I have a concern about Johnny that I would like your help with. He seems to have no idea how to answer the telephone at home and have a conversation,” she said.
Keep in mind, this was a time when most houses still had a land line so occasionally it would ring and you would have to answer.
Her comment left me kind of gobsmacked. So I asked her to elaborate further on what she actually wanted me to do.
“Could you maybe incorporate it into your lesson plans and teach the children how to answer the phone. You know, just the basics like Hello, who’s calling. That type of thing,” she explained.
In my head I was screaming “ARE YOU EFFING KIDDING ME? IS THAT NOT YOUR JOB? COULD YOU NOT TEACH JOHNNY ONE DAY WHEN THE PHONE RINGS?”
Instead, in my best teacher voice I replied, “Perhaps I can get you some resources that may help you teach Johnny how to answer the phone?”
To which she replied- “Oh no- I don’t think I’m qualified to do that type of thing. Plus when would I fit it in?”
This is a true story and I can only hope Johnny is now of an age and ability where he can successfully press a button and say hello!
Which brings me to my question of ‘where does a parent’s responsibility end, and a school’s begin?’
One school in Portugal was so sick of having to teach it’s students the basics of good manners, organisational skills and hygiene, that they decided to put a poster up in the school hall directed at the parents.
Here’s what it said:
We would like to remind you that magic words such as hello, please, you’re welcome, I’m sorry, and thank you, all begin to be learned at home
It’s also at home that children learn to be honest, to be on time, diligent, show friends their sympathy, as well as show utmost respect for their elders and all teachers.
Home is where they learn to be clean, not talk with their mouths full, and how/where to properly dispose of garbage.
Home is also where they learn to be organized, to take good care of their belongings, and that it’s not ok to touch others.
Here at school, on the other hand, we teach language, math, history, geography, physics, sciences, and physical education. We only reinforce the education that children receive at home from their parents.”
Support for the image was huge and pretty soon the poster had been shared numerous times on Facebook!
What do you think? Did the school have a point? Are things like teaching basic manners and hygiene to children the responsibility of the parents or teachers? Do we expect too much from our schools?