Teachers often complain that parents do not do their part in educating their own children. Without question, this is true. In fact, it is unusual to have a parent or parents really participate in any form of didactic activity in the context of their family. Unfortunately, when homeschooling does happen it seems motivated by closely held religion or regional beliefs. Of course, those isolated areas, where schools are not available are different. Unfortunately, in either case, the parents often think they are qualified as competent teachers. Even with commercially available teaching aids in hand, this is rarely the case.
Recently, I have been asking myself what part do professional educators actually play in “classroom” teaching of children. Of course, we all know about teaching aids, films, computers, demonstrations, etc. We learn how to impart details of study aids, how to provide study material, and write sensible, meaningful questions among all of the other things teachers do. We are aware of the constant social pressures parents and school boards subject teachers; teachers should teach this or that and teach whatever it is this way or that way. Good teachers do not have enough time in one day to do everything—those who do not care have too much. This is when the principle show up in your classroom with the news that you are not the new swimming coach because the states legislature says we have to have a swimming team and there is no one else to do it—you do know how to swim don’t you? Beleaguered teachers often resort to writing easy to grade tests, occupy students with reading while they mark tests but resort to the most common of all techniques, which is to assign hours and hours of homework. In the light of the acknowledged lack of parents’ interest in their children, it is unassisted homework. Of course, the opposite happens as well; the parents often do the homework for the student; the classic example of this is the outstanding and professionally done sixth-grade space explore rocket science fair project. Recently, the Common Core project revealed another problem; some parents do not know enough to assist their children, so they complain the homework is too difficult.
When you assign homework, are you asking parents to be “homeschoolers”? When they fail is that why you are so unhappy with parents? When teachers assign homework are you angry with them for asking you to do their work? Does anyone think this will end well?
Good teachers are professionals, but they are also innately driven. Teachers have a desire to teach children what they know but what the student does not. Maya Angelo said it succinctly when she said, “If you learn teach”. Teachers have gone to college and learned many things, but they have not learned everything. Common Core is much more they setting standards for students. It is setting standard for teachers but also setting standards for students and parents. In other words, it is establishing a common core or theme to work around for all elements in education, but especially educational administrators. A parent reading Common Core standards should better realize what a teachers’ job is, what a teacher is trying to accomplish in the classroom. A student knows what the teachers and parents expect they should know when they are at his or her grade level. Done right, the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) will eventually reflect all of this.
A professional teacher, not the parents but the teachers, is trained how to evaluate student learning and to modify and expand that learning to each students’ ability. Some students are not capable of reaching Common Core standards while others will easily exceed those standards. That evaluation is the principle task unique to each classroom. Only a teacher can do this in the intimate setting of a classroom, not at home, or on the playground or in an educational administrators’ office, especially in a local School Board meeting. The most difficult task for a teacher is to know how and when to convey that information to the parents.
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