So here’s the question I’m grappling with: why aren’t parents more angry about the education their kids are getting? I know, I know…it’s the same system they went through, most schools are getting over the traditional bar, the whole technology is changing learning thing isn’t dinner time conversation…I get all that. So what?
Humor me. Bring some imaginary sets (or onesies) of parents into a room and ask them these questions. What kind of responses do you think you’d get?
- Do you want your kids to be problem solvers?
- Do you want them to be able to work constructively with others to create useful stuff?
- Do you want the things they create to contribute to the community?
- Do you want your kids to be able to distinguish between relevant, truthful information and the alternative?
- Do you want your kids to be creative, imaginative and curious?
- Do you want your kids to work on their own, to self-direct their own learning?
- Do you want your children to use technology to learn and create?
- Do you want your kids to be passionate about learning?
- Do you want your kids to be engaged in school?
- Do you want your students to learn from/with different cultures?
- Do you want them to be independent?
- (Add your own here.)
I’m thinking few if any parents are going to say, “um, no, I don’t really want that for my child.” Right? Ok, so now ask them, “How’s your kid’s school doing with all of that?” Unless I’m just totally being delusional here, I think they’d struggle when pressed to assess the problem solving, collaboration, information sifting skills et. al. that their children are getting. I know I do. I mean, where is the grade for all of that? How many parents actively try to make qualitative judgments about all that stuff based on the conversations and work that their kids bring home?
The other night, I asked those kinds of questions to some parent friends of ours as we went deep into the night talking about education. These were really smart, caring folks who absolutely wanted all of the above for their own children but didn’t really know if it was happening. I got the sense that they had an implicit trust in the system to do right by their kids, and that the grades their kids received pretty much told the story of their education. They struggled with those questions. Not to say they weren’t frustrated with some of the things that happened in the school. Not to say they were always happy. But they seemed powerless, even resistant to change it.
They weren’t pissed. (I am.)
We read everywhere that US school kids are lagging behind, and we all go through the requisite amount of hand wringing and worry. And I know that in the mostly white and privileged communities in which most of us live (have you really looked at the picture/avatars in your Twitter list lately?), it’s easy to say that it’s the other kids that are lagging, not ours. And I also know that for many, many people, just being able to go to school and do well on the traditional tests is an amazing blessing. I’m not suggesting this isn’t complex.
But if we really believe in the value of all that problem solving, collaboration, self-direction, passion stuff, and we take an honest look at what the current system values by what it assesses, it’s hard not to see the gap. I know, we get the assessments we can afford. I know at the end of the day, assessing all of that really important stuff doesn’t fit the “easy” model we have for schools right now. But what I don’t know is why there isn’t more urgency coming from the home. Do parents think that all of that stuff is just folded into the class grade somehow? Really? Or is there a fundamental reality about all of this that I can’t see (or maybe I’m not willing to admit?)
What’s up with that?
Lisa Parisi says
Okay, I’ll bite. I work very hard to make sure that my students get the education they should be getting. But for my own daughter, I don’t work as hard. So you want to know why? When she was in elementary school (public – can’t afford private), I was in the school often talking about the education (or lack thereof). I went to Board Meetings, PTA meetings, parent conferences, principal conferences, etc. all to improve the education of my child. The response I got was that I can’t expect the district to change to be like Herricks (that’s where I work). “Smithtown is not Herricks.” My reply, to the curriculum director, was “Why wouldn’t we want to aspire to that?” At that point (Ali was in 5th grade at the time and I was tired of fighting), I stopped trying.
Now I provide outside resources for Ali, pay for lessons for sports and creative endeavors, send her to weekend and summer classes in science, art, sports, etc. and tell her, when she tells me how much she hates school, that once she gets through high school, she will be happier with school.
Does it make me happy to know that my daughter is spending 6 hours a day, 5 days a week, 180 days a year thinking only about getting good grades and making it through another day? No. Do I have another solution? No. I do the best I can and hope that people like you will keep educating schools. I went into teaching because I hated the education I received and wanted it to be better. Maybe more of us can do the same.
Will Richardson says
Thanks for the honest thoughts, Lisa. I know all about being out there advocating on your own. ;0)
Aparna Vashisht says
The part that jumps out to me is the “I was tired of fighting, I stopped trying. Many many parents feel the same way. Plus, they are often afraid of being seen as the problem parent. They don’t want their children to suffer any backlash. Its tough for parents!
I agree that many parents who do “fight” get tired because it is not easy. Starting in kindergarten my child was put in front of a tv everytime it rained for recess. I faught for my child’s education so wrote a letter and had many parents do the same as this is not good education practice that promotes learning especially at an age where kids learn to socialize. What happened? The rest of year the principle came up with a solution. The next year and the year after that, it went back to the way it was.Many parents still come forward as I do and it is extremely exhausting.
Alfred Thompson says
First parents have to admit that there is a problem. If they do that then they sort of have to do something about it. That’s where things fall apart. Too many don’t know what to do about the problem so it is easier to ignore it. Others think the only solution is private schools and they don’t have or want to spend the money. others look at what is involved (changing school boards perhaps?) and decide it is just more than they can handle so fall back again on ignoring the problem.
Parents who send their children to private schools or charter schools are often the ones who are angry with public schools. The path of least resistance is to spend the money or push for the charter. Its not always easy (I once spent a huge percentage of my income on tuition) but having tried changing public schools from the inside (running for office and even getting elected) I decided I had to take care of my child first. Yeah pretty selfish that I didn’t want to doom my child to a poor education while I struggled to work for other people’s kids I know.
Andrew Sams says
Ahhh, WIll, as is most always the case, your questions resonate with my own reflections on such matters.
I’m combining a few discussions that I’ve had in the recent past, one with a parent, one with an administrator, and one with a teacher; each really saying, I feel, the same thing. In essence, here would be their perspective:
“Excellence is demonstrated chiefly by performing well on tests. A lack of performance on a test is a bad thing, and to criticize the test or what’s being tested is simply making excuses to cover up for failure, on the part of the child for one, and on the part of the school for not seeing to it that the content was learned.
Testing ultimately goes a long way in determining where my kid gets to go to college. Testing will determine his or her success while there.
Testing determines performance index scores, performance index scores are used as a comparative metric between districts in surrounding communities (state ranking, bragging rights); bad test scores equate to lower property values and are reflective of poor learning environments and undesirable schools.”
It is, friends, all about the frapping tests… We’ve created a system that makes the biggest deal out of testing success, and therefor we have a system that is predicated on preparing students for those tests.
What I like about your post is that it begs the question of society, “Do you realize that all this performance speaks nothing to the abilities and skills mentioned in this list??!!”
To that, I’d imagine the same folks whose perspective I consolidated above, would most likely say, “Well, that’s not good, it really should include those things… Can you believe it, LaBron went to Miami!!” And then they’d go fix a sandwich…
mary pat callihan says
It’s great to have the passion to help make changes…I have plenty of that, most people in education do, but where are you going with this anger? It’s just publicly blowing off steam without the next step, which is ideas. Got any of those? Some of us are trying to make changes, but it is a battle weary business and many of us are working hard on our job, our standards, being innovative, staying current, not to mention seeing the family. We could use some help here. Would you like to be our general, because no one else seems to be stepping up to the plate and no one is listening to the teachers who say this educational system has gotten to the point of ridiculous.
Will Richardson says
Yeah, I have some ideas. But conversations like this (and blowing off steam from time to time) help hone them. Not sure I can be the general in this war; there are better choices out there. But I will aspire to be the advocate general, if that’s ok. ;0)
Steve Ransom says
From my perspective, I do think that parents put an implicit trust in the educational system. They trust that schools know best and are doing all that they can. They also by and large believe in the current policies surrounding testing, they want lots of homework, lots of grades, and they want papers coming home as evidence of “work”. Sure, they all have their complaints, but most don’t want to rock the boat. They may bring up grievances at parent-teacher conferences, but most never really follow through after that. I have had countless reasons to “raise hell” over they types of experiences my own students are receiving in school, but mostly I don’t. I don’t want the “evil parent” cloud following my children through their public school years. I don’t want to be one of those parents that teachers talk about and who fear getting my child in their classroom. I certainly have expressed my concern over things that I consider intolerable, but don’t think it really did much good. Of course, I know that I am much more critical about the type of education my children receive since I am an educator myself. My kids are in one of the top public school systems around here (based upon standardized test scores). Parents who can afford to move in to our district do so based upon that reputation and confidence that their children will graduate and succeed in higher education and beyond… and they mostly do. But, I think many do not realize that their own socio-economic status/power has much to do with that.
As much as schools/teachers provide lip service that they value “parent involvement, they really want parents to make kids do their homework, volunteer for parties, send in supplies… and leave them alone (yes, there are wonderful exceptions to all of this). Parents as partners has never really flourished in most schools. Sorry to be so blunt, but the implicit “leave us alone and let us do our job” is communicated in many ways.
Will Richardson says
Totally agreed. Parental involvement is about appeasement, not change.
I think people have the same relationship to schools as they do with Congress. They hate the institution in a general sense, yet generally are happy with their own local representative/ school. This is one reason schooling won’t change. People with power like their kids schools just the way they are. Parents generally get involved to support the status quo.
Will, also, please consider the enormous pressure these institutions are under, both public and independent. If an independent school explicitly advocated what you call for, it would close. I teach at what would be considered a very progressive place. But parents still get worried about the college placements and the school needs to always be mindful of that.
One glimmer of hope I do have is that PSSA scores are not going to be going up much longer and some “successful” school districts are going to be labeled in ways they don’t like. Perhaps then a real backlash will begin to occur.
Finally, and this is only tangentially connected, parents basically want their own experiences in school to be replicated for their children.
Gary Stager says
In my experience, the school did not want me or Sylvia anywhere near the holy compound.
Too often parental involvement means treating parents in two ways:
1) An ATM – write checks
2) A Narc – enforce our arbitrary rules 24/7
Doug Johnson says
You need a second set of questions…
*Would you like your children to have informed opinions and values that may differ from your own?
*Are you willing to advocate for higher taxes to lower class sizes, raise teacher salaries to attract better candidates to the profession, and buy technology?
*Are you willing to have your children’s performance measured in ways other than standardized test scores?
*Would you support year-round school, classes segregated by ability rather than age, and alternatives to whole-group instruction?
*Are you willing to take a larger share of responsibility in the academic performance of your own children?
*Would you be willing to change the school colors, school mascot or football program?
Stop asking the softball questions, Will. Get down to brass tacks about how these changes will actually be accomplished in parents’ local schools. My guess is you will find a deeply conservative set of values underneath that “we need to change” surface.
Your friendly cynic,
Will Richardson says
Thanks, as always, Doug. You’re right, there are harder questions. Btw, my answers to the above are yes, yes, yes, yes (except for the year round thing), yes, and no. I’m sure I’m in the minority.
So, assuming I gave all the “right” answers, how do we get others to do so as well? Or are you saying it’s all beyond us, and we should just fend for ourselves?
Doug Johnson says
I guess my point is that the devil is in the details. Big picture stuff is not hard to reach consensus on – it’s the stuff that actually touches individuals that is hard.
Covey talks about “sphere of influence” (if memory servers) and is that just another perspective on “just fending for ourselves?” I am less inclined to try to change the world directly and more inclined to change what I can as much as I can and as fast as I can. If more folks did that, the revolutionary change we all want might just well happen.
Keep me thinking!
Gary Stager says
I don’t want any segregation in schools, including ability grouping.
Di Di says
I agree with Doug. We do need to ask the harder questions, but we can’t ask those questions until we get parents to answer the easy ones first. Parents are often so busy and so frustrated and exhausted from fulfilling the requirements of parenting (the constant feeding of the teenagers, supplying them with full wardrobes they are continually outgrowing, and just getting the kids to school and making them do their homework) that they don’t have time or energy to think anymore.
So the first step is simply to get parents to think about what they really expect for the schools to help their children achieve. Then they can decide if the schools are really accomplishing those tasks. Once those two questions are answered, then they will be able to face the harder questions.
Rob Paterson says
I wonder if most parents are “too busy” to notice anything – so not only do they miss your excellent questions but also imagine that the world is still simple – Immigration? – close the border or what problem? – Peak Oil? Blame someone and so on?
I find most people are asleep consumed by distraction
1. Parents are busy with their own lives, their own work, and their own issues.
2. Your list is leading the witness. We could just as easily create a much different list, with which parents would also strongly agree and which would push for much more traditional approaches:
A. Do you want your child to know his/her basic math facts?
B. Do you want your child to be reading at or above grade level?
C. Do you believe in having your child’s school focus on decoding and reading comprehension?
D. Do you want your child to learn respect and discipline?
etc, etc, etc.
Will Richardson says
True, but the difference is we’re already assessing that stuff. I know what my school is doing in those areas. My concern is the “other” stuff.
Gary Stager says
Great. Let’s have universal public school choice (a charter school for all) where EVERY school’s community of parents and teachers determines the curriculum, assessment, schedule, personnel.
If parents want some puritanical educational experience where compliance, obedience and basic skills are the core values, cool. I just don’t want any child I love going to that school.
Why are we afraid to let 1,000 flowers bloom?
Jennifer Dalby says
The revolution that needs to take place in schools, won’t happen by advocating for one student at a time. What is best for my child, may deprive another and disrupt the learning ecology. None of the items on your list are exclusive responsibilities of the school, so why would parents get pissed and blame the school?
Focus on our own kids distracts from the larger systemic problems. Parents are only invested for 12 years. That is not enough time to influence the kind of change that would impact their child in a way that would balance with the amount of effort put in to advocate for that child.
I believe if we want parents to take a strong role in advocating for change, we’ve got to think beyond our own children and their needs. We need to be cooperatively pissed, attending to the needs of all the children in the community. How many parents are even aware of how the system fails or succeeds with other children?
Di Di says
Good point! Reform rarely affects the people who are pursuing it; future generations are always the recipients of the effects of any reformation.
Cindy Jennings says
Here, here! Change won’t come one parent/child/teacher at a time. I wish it would. I’ll apologize in advance for a back at you – mine is about seeming parent-bashing going on in several circles/at all levels.
In K12 parents get bashed because they aren’t involved enough, don’t do enough, aren’t present’ enough. Agree with Lisa Parisi above…the extent of ‘involvement’ often desired is “…sell, sell, sell that wrapping paper/those magazines/that candy/that fruit but don’t ask us about the mindless stream of useless homework we send home and expect you to check. Don’t question our traditions like Accelerated Reader when it clearly isn’t working for your child. Just learn to like how that one aspect of ‘language arts’ can affect your child’s grade for the whole year.” (Am I bitter about AR, you bet. My son – now 18 – is just now beginning to read again after having love of reading beaten out of him by his school’s slavish devotion to AR in his elementary years. Would anyone TALK to me about it when I wanted to explore other options…Nope…just sell that paper please).
And…more parent-bashing in college: Be involved and take and interest in helping your child through the maze that is higher education and NOW you are dubbed ‘helicopter-trouble-maker.’ Now you are TOO involved…you are making your child incompetent to manage their own adult lives.
Yes, we have problems …at all levels.
Yes, there is much frustration – for teachers, and parents, and administrators.
What’s going to fix it?
I wish I knew…but expecting that individual parents can move this mountain is not realistic imho.
I’m with Jen….it’s a systemic issue and therefore requires a system-level approach.
k, I’m done now…and apologizing again for my own back at you….
Jason Green says
@doug Many parents would answer yes to all those questions, and , instead of paying higher taxes or attending a year round school, invest our own time and money so our children have summers filled with experiences they learn from and get the opportunity to learn things like science and art that the tests don’t take an interest in.
Chris Lehmann says
I’d add one more question to Doug’s list:
* Are you willing to sacrifice 100 points in your child’s SAT score to get those things?
Parents in the wealthier neighborhoods are satisfied because kids are still getting into top schools. If the college finance nightmare that seems to be coming comes and middle and upper-middle class families have to see high school as more than a sorting mechanism for college, we might have a window for change.
John Patten says
Three words: “It’s hard work.” Many of the comments above address this fact. It is (probably the most) important work, but it is the hardest work in terms of changing our system. All the other so called issues, national standards, breaking unions, etc. etc. are essentially minor, distracting issues. They are easy things that “don’t involve me,” and do not have an real significance in terms of change(IMHO). Real change has to come through involvement with the local community. That work is extremely difficult at many levels. We are just in the process of doing this ourselves in my district, and I can attest to the effort and work necessary for sustaining the drive to reach productive outcomes, even at our early stages. In the last week or so, following ISTE, there seems to be a common thread in many edu bloggers that is following along the same lines as your post here. Thanks for the opportunity to engage my squishy gray matter into string them together 🙂
Tony Baldasaro says
Some thoughts… in no particular order.
1. Parents (people) are comfortable with what they know, and what they know is how they went to school.
2. Excuse the massive generalization here, but those parents who tend to be most active in communities and schools are those that did well in school, they knew how to play the game and, frankly, the game hasn’t changed so they know how to help their kids be play the game. Any change would result in a shift, and uncomfortably shift so they resist whenever possible.
3. Parents don’t like to take risks with their children. Traditional is much less risky.
4. We HAVE to get our kids to college in order to join the competitive work force (blech!). The best way for a kid to do that is get their homework done (which increases grades, which allows teachers to write good recommendations- “good soldier syndrome) and try hard on all standardized tests so you can blow those kids who don’t play the game out of the water.
5. Finally… traditional is easy, being progressive is hard. We are not making a compelling enough case in education to make that leap.
John Pederson says
“Curiously, an organization that commits to helping society manage a problem also commits itself to the preservation of that same problem, as its institutional existence hinges on societyâ€™s continued need for its management.”
Clay Shirky – Cognitive Surplus
It is my experience that if you get excited about education and show your student’s parents this excitement, they’ll follow any argument you make or most of them will anyway.
The issue I think is that most teachers haven’t heard OUR argument for how education should be. I’d love to see us find some money and advertise what we think education should look like. Most parents still follow traditional media, if we want to reach them, we need to use the tools they use.
Pam Trainor says
I cheated. I brought my kids to school with me. 😉
Top quality public education in an urban district from top notch dedicated teachers who get “IT.” All parents should have a choice!
monika hardy says
this is a great time guys..
1. even though many appear to be disinterested.. more and more are talking about the need for change
2. ed-reform through personalization is now available via the web
3. too many don’t have web access.. don’t even have a voice here
this begs any adventurer a great project – let’s redefine school.. save the world.
Will Richardson says
Interesting links and thoughts. (Stop flapping…exactly.) I think the problem is, however, reform isn’t transform. I mean, is the newspaper industry being reformed? Music? This is a pretty mind-boggling shift that flapping ain’t gonna solve…communicating that is the hard part.
Totally agreed on access, btw.
I care very much about these things, and that’s why I homeschool. And funny enough, I have more time to spend enjoying my kid instead of screaming about getting homework done; extracurriculars don’t eat into family time; and he is getting enough sleep because school doesn’t start at 8 AM.
Plus healthy lunches, plenty of PE, and no skimping on music lessons. Small class size and the ability to match each subject with a different curriculum to meet his needs and interests.
I wish more parents realized it was a viable option. Even small coops of homeschoolers get great results.
Tom Whitby says
I agree with all that you say, but most parents are not educators. Pedagogy or lack thereof would need to be explained to parents before they could ask many of those questions. Many parents went to school in another era. Their experience or understanding of school would or should be different than that which they would experience today. If they walked into a school and were comfortable and familiar with all that they saw, that would be a problem. We need to engage parents and educate them about what it is they should be seeing and questions they need to be asking. We need to change the culture to reform education.
Club Penguin says
Most parents would say yess to all of the above. However, most parents would not see a correlation between those things and our current educational system.
Jeff B says
I think you’re absolutely right on this issue. Parents don’t really seem to know what’s going on in education, but when they’re told, most of them don’t want to invest in change, either. It’s quite a sad situation when grades have become inflated (at least in my school) and parents simply accept that their student is “passing” and nothing more.
With some parents, it’s flat-out disrespect for education (I’ve been yelled at, yes YELLED at, over the phone for calling a parent during the day), but that’s a different story altogether. All it take is a group of parental dissidents to really start to create a buzz…but that doesn’t seem to be happening…
paul shircliff says
thanks for the great questions Will. I keep wanting to ask my parents/students..”what do you want for your education and how are we going to achieve that?”. Even if we get them to agree that transformation is needed, how to go about it will be a difficult task. Many will not agree because the ideas will be new and “unproven.” I keep adding things/ideas to my classes and still think I am not giving them enough opportunities. A great education is a never ending goal, and probably a moving target.
Tamara Doehring says
Love this topic. It is a difficult road for parents. As both a parent and a teacher I feel more of an obligation as a teacher to make a voice for change. Teachers are supposed to be the experts about how to best prepare students in this setting. Parents put enormous trust in us.
As a teacher, I was involved in everything I could possibly be invloved with to make change while still dedicating my focus on my students. That is one of the teacher issues. Those that typically care the most are extemely focused on their 150 students.
I left the classroom two years ago for this very reason. As much as I LOVE teaching, I was tired of being REACTIVE and wanted to be PROACTIVE. In many ways it comes down to this. Our system is extremely reactive to each bit of data that comes our way. And the “fixes” are small ideas.
I once heard Kylene Beers say (and I think she was quoting someone else) that where we want to get to is across a great divide–imagine a canyon. We try to get there by taking little steps. We have to take a huge leap.
I like this analogy because it emphasizes that in order to do this it would be a major paradigm shift. Think of a classroom no longer divided by class periods, but a work-like environment where students work to solve real world problems. Their subject area “skills” are taught/monitored/explored through their tasks. I see this as being something our students could use but to do this would take…what?
My focus, here in Florida, has been to change the way we teach kids to care about their work. To make them curious and want to learn. A huge part is a focus on writing. Most people love this idea, feel free, see improvement, engagement in their students. BUT I realize that in order to SHOW the powers that be that it is an approach to take, it has to be measurable to their data. And herein lies yet another problem.
Education is currently a very data-driven bureacracy and to change that is once again a paradigm shift.
Gary Stager says
Mark Frauenfelder’s delightful new book, “Made by Hand: Searching for Meaning in a Throwaway World,” (http://amzn.to/cDbCnb) features a quite credible chapter on education, learning and unschooling. It’s frankly better than most of what passes for education literature these days.
Frauenfelder makes a unique argument by suggesting that the world may be reduced to two aesthetics – DIY (Do-It-Yourself) and HAP (Hire-a-Pro).
School(ing) is an case of “Hire-a-Pro.” Most people, including parents trust the system and don’t give it a second thought until it fails their child in a catastrophic fashion. Even then, many of us have few real options.
Even the folks attracting a lot of attention for “transforming” schools have really only produced a slightly better mousetrap. Throw in the magic beans of charters and other governance schemes and the situation gets much muddier.
PS: I get your reform vs. transform analogy, but not all of the transformations in fields like media and music, regardless of their inevitability, may be good for culture and society.
We do know a lot more than one might think about creating productive contexts for learning.
Too bad nobody wants to create and support them – including private and charter schools.
Gary Stager says
This week’s guest speaker at Constructing Modern Knowledge (http://constructingmodernknowledge.com), Alfie Kohn wrote a very powerful article worthy of your attention.
Only for My Kid: How Privileged Parents Undermine School Reform – http://bit.ly/aM7o55
IMHO, this should be required reading for folks weighing-in on this debate.
Roberta Taylor says
I am a parent, and until recently I worked (somewhat peripherally) in Education Technology. I am very angry.
Having a 12th grade teacher tell my daughter that typed assignments are not allowed, because you’ll never get a job without good penmanship, and another tell her that they can’t use wikipedia because ‘the internet is wrong’ sums up our local school board’s attitude towards students.
The problem is, that other than teach subversive skills (like using a proxy bypass to get at most of the internet from school) and rant a lot, there is NOTHING that we can do. When the attitude of the administration, board, and much of the local community (who also went to that school, as did their parents) is that there is nothing wrong, despite a non-grad rate of over 40% (over 40% of students who enter grade 9 fail to finish grade 12), an isolated voice is lost.
We teach our kids the things we know are essential at home, and pray that they get the less poor teachers. We save our wrath for really big issues, like missing pre-requisites, teachers with severe bullying problems, and an attendance policy which makes students sit detention if they miss any days sick. And we really, really wish that we had the luxury to have kept our children homeschooled all the way through secondary school.
We talk to other parents about concepts like 21st Century literacies, hoping that eventually the grassroots buzz about these things gets loud enough to effect change. And we expect that our kids will one day homeschool our grandchildren, because we don’t have a lot of faith in the institution. In this small town at least, it is rotten and hollow inside.
paul bogush says
Here’s one reason why things don’t change:
And I wrote this in anger one night for the Board of Ed Meeting, but decided to sit on it until the first meeting next year.
You ask what’s up with the parents? I totally “get” why parents just wait it out each year hoping it will be better next year. If someone with some “expertise” can speak with a teacher, with the admin, and at the board of ed meeting and be made to feel like a total $!%, then I can only imagine how “Mr and Mrs I just love my kids and want the best for them but can’t battle your attitude and jargon in public must feel.” My wife and I have the experience, jargon, research, etc, to go toe-to-toe with the school, but when you are the only ones doing it, everyone—including the other parents—think you must be wrong, the school must be right. Weren’t most of us trained for 16+ years to believe everything our teachers and principals told us?
I just read a book called Curriculum 21 by Jacobs and she talked about the program structures of traditional schools. These structures need to change if schools are going to change. The traditional structures of time, space and personnel are too rigid and set up for the 18th century. I wrote a blog post on it and what we are doing at our school. We are trying! You have to start somewhere.
I agree with you that parents don’t get mad enough, but the ones that like traditional schools are often the ones whose kids excel in the boring 18th century system. My opinion is that reform of schools is going to be easier in non-affluent areas. I am writing from Canada where we don’t have all the goofy challenges you guys have (yet!).
I agree – the classroom needs to change their methods to challenge student outside of the core subjects. What does your typical 7hr school day look like in order to answer ‘yes’ to all of your questions?
Lisa Nieslen says
Building on a concept from @Shareski from #BLC10. What if we gave every student a domain? In fact, what if it came with a child’s birth certificate. It would be something like Lisa Nielsen, 8 lbs 3 ounces. http://www.lisanielsen0033.com (name/last four digits of social).
How would that change assessment, what we do in our schools, and the digital footprint parents expect schools to help their children develop.
Ann Lusch says
“Those of us who are old enough to have school-aged children had a set of experiences in school that define for us what learning is supposed to look like, and in most cases our past experience still shape how we think about school.” Tony Wagner in the Global Achievement Gap
I know, I know, this is what you said at the beginning, Will. But it answers your question. How are parents supposed to imagine that school should be different than it was for them? I didn’t when my kids were at school, except for a concern about a lack of a relevant curriculum in the computer class. And I’m a teacher, and I’ve only been made to think about some of these issues fairly recently. Most parents are not reading the education blogs.
It’s not that I did not want some of that good stuff you list for my kids. We tried to encourage our children at home. We as parents were the ones taking the kid interested in trains to train shows and on train rides and sitting through countless play rehearsals for the kid interested in theater. Maybe some of that could have been taken care of in the schools, but not all, I don’t think.
And those computer skills that my son was not getting at school? He acquired a lot of that at home, too, sitting in front of a computer and exploring, because it was a passion; and now he works for Microsoft.