School is back for most now and there is an audible sigh of relief from parents as their kids rush back into the classroom for another year.
But wait, there seems to be some confusion over just who is raising the kids.
So, let’s be clear.
Teachers are not substitute parents. Repeat after me: teachers are not responsible for the bits parents miss out. They are not there to pick up the slack if parents can’t be bothered doing it right to begin with.
Teachers exist to guide young minds in the spirit of discovery. They help our kids learn, to be sure, but in the subjects we accept they have expertise in. Like grammar and mathematics, geography and history. Leave it to them to broaden the mind and parents to mould the manner of the child. Makes sense to me.
But, you guessed it, it doesn’t always work this way.
I spent more than a year working in education, privy to an astounding array of case studies in schools of friction, complaints and praise. Some of it warranted. Much of it was not.
But what struck me the most was the never-ending cavalcade of complaints from parents who blamed schools and teachers for everything from lack of discipline through to the music their child was listening to. They thought their duties as a parent stopped when the child was born and resumed only to berate their surrogates, the teachers, when school started.
Which is why I wasn’t surprised to read this. News.com.au reports:
Parents are shirking the responsibility of disciplining their kids, turning teachers into makeshift mums and dads.
A major Herald Sun survey of Victorian teachers found three-quarters believe parents have unreasonable expectations about the school’s role in raising kids.
And the stresses are showing, with nearly half of teachers surveyed admitting they had considered resigning over the past 12 months.
Educators say parents have become too fixated on being “friends” with their children, and are increasingly neglecting their duty to enforce boundaries.
One of the points teachers made in the survey was that parents thought the powers of the teacher extended beyond school hours and into the child’s home. In Victoria alone, parents brought in 200 pages of their children’s Facebook transcripts and said ‘I’ll leave this for you to sort out’.
Did they not realise the Internet is available everywhere and, very often these days, children use it first in the home?
The problem arises in territory disputes. Schools must discipline their students to make things work, but are their efforts always reinforced at home? And parents may make inroads in behaviour at home, but how much is undone at school?
The reality is that parents and schools exist in a shared custody arrangement of our nation’s children.
During the week children will spend almost as much time with their teachers as they will their parents. So of course it’s a bonus if Australia’s teachers take it upon themselves to make their charges the most well-rounded young minds and characters they can. But if parents just come to expect it, and in so doing abdicate their responsibilities as guardians, then we’re all in a little bit of strife.
And these parents may well be the same ones who say the teachers are terrible, overpaid and lazy.
Newsflash: you can’t have it both ways.
Where does parenting stop and teaching begin, where should the line be drawn?