Blaming the parents should not be the instinctive first response when a behavior problem arises with a child. This is not an effective teaching strategy, nor a best teaching practice that will lead to truly making a difference in the life of a student.
I'm not talking about negligent parents here, the ones who don't fulfill the basic obligations of child-rearing that our society expects. I'm talking about your standard, do-your-best-but-not-perfect parents...you know, the kind of parent that you are or were when your kids were in elementary school (I'm including my own imperfect parenting here).
No matter how conscientious a parent is, they cannot completely prepare their child to perform like a perfect little teacher-pleasing robot at school. Even if this is what should truly be desired (which it isn't), what parent can fully prepare their child to handle this new and ever-changing dynamic that we call "school?"
He's doing his job...
now we do ours
School is a lot of things: Constant interaction with dozens of kids of all different personalities, rules, rituals, rewards, consequences, procedures and new stuff that stretches their brains to the limit every day.
And what about recent immigrants to this country who may not even speak English well at home? They are even less well-equipped to prepare their children for the social expectations of an American school.
All a "good" parent can really do is send their kid through the doors of the school every day as well-prepared as they can make them, then pick them up six hours later and do their best to get them ready to repeat it all again the next day. If a little reinforcement of learning can happen at home, that's a great bonus.
NOTE: We are never going back to the days when kids were taught to automatically respect all authority figures. It's a different society now...one where authority figures must earn respect.
In between, during those critical six hours where the child is outside the direct influence of his parents, that's where the trained, experienced professional takes over. You know, the one who has learned effective teaching strategies, has a college degree (often a masters), years of experience and plenty of elementary teacher resources in the form of a full professional support staff.
The one who has made it her life's work to develop children into knowledgeable, intelligent citizens.
So I have a problem - a big problem - when the first reaction of a trained, professional teacher to a common classroom issue (such as talking) is to blame the parents. In effect, this teacher is saying:
"If you can't get your kid under control while they are at school (even though you are at home), then I cannot and will not teach them. Your child should behave like a perfect audience member while I'm instructing, and if they don't...I'm done trying."
That is an unfortunate and unproductive attitude for any teacher to hold. I'm not saying my profession is easy...that's why I started this website, after all, to provide effective teaching strategies to help teachers get up to speed as quickly as possible. But no profession is easy; dedicated professionals just make it look easy.
If we hold every parent to an unrealistic and unattainable standard of child-rearing, and only want to teach the "good" kids, we are excluding those children who need us - and who need the benefits of public education - the most.
If there is one profession that demands dedication, teaching is it. And when it comes to dedication, I mean dedication to the children and all of their unique, engaging, aggravating, irritating and inspiring little personalities.
That's simply what being a teacher is all about.
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