Thursday, January 27, 2011

Thoughts on education

First I read about how a lawmaker in Florida wants teachers to grade parents. Then I saw the state of the union which had a fair bit focused on education. And lastly I have been listening to the background noise on tiger, lion, teddy, and rabbit parenting with regard to education.

So lets go slow. Parents are responsible not just for raising kids but also educating them. Teachers do not raise kids they mentor and teach them. Teachers do not grade parents nor should they start now. I think there are 2 issues here: 1. making parents the scapegoat for their kids learning ability and teaching them they are not always responsible for their own behavior AND 2. teachers have 30 kids per class and grading 30 extra people is ridiculous if not insulting.

Can we really expect a failing system that produced some of these parents to really teach their kids? The logic becomes circular rather quickly. Needless to say you cant fix the hemorhage with a bandaid. The education system is oddly similar to government to bureacracy.

In the SOTU speech, the president had a few things to say about shouldering responsibility for education and he mentioned them in order of personal responsibility. Parents that need to turn off the TV, not give their kids cell phones (take those away too), and stop blowing smoke up their kids asses with self esteem. As I listened to a few TV voices talk about one stood out above the rest:

If we challenge them, get them excited about learning by being excited about learning, they will succeed. And some of the failure and some of the success will give these kids self esteem. 

Need proof? From the SOTU: "Thank you, Mrs. Waters, for showing… that we are smart and we can make it." It wasn't that those kids were dumb. They lacked confidence, skills, and focus. And the new school was able to help those kids achieve.

Which leads my mind to "animal" parenting. All types of parenting can be successful. I think from what I heard the tiger version assumes that the kids need to be focused and disciplined in a boot camp like environment. Where pushing oneself to excel to perfection is worth the sometimes harsh treatment. Others choose a much looser approach ... lets find what your passion is and pursue it. This one takes something that not all families have: patience, money, knowledge, and passion. 

What can learned from this: Teachers are mentors and teachers. Sometimes by being good teachers they are mentoring by revealing their passion. Sometimes the mentoring is direct requiring discussion and reflection. This is why teachers can be so great and impact many students. But teachers can't always reach everyone. Either in a mentoring role or even a teaching role. Thats why we have different teachers for different subjects, and subjects like life, coping, emotion, and expectations start at home.