Friday, March 19, 2010

One of the Ways Parents Screw Up Their Children

My husband is a teacher.  He teaches middle school Language Arts.  He's actually a good teacher.  I know he's a good teacher because he actually cares about his students. He brags to me about their successes and frets to me about their failures.  He has high expectations for all of them in August, although by January he's more realistic about those expectations. But he still keeps trying, even when it's not appreciated.  And most of the teachers he and I work with are the same way.  They're not perfect, but they do care, and they do the best that they can with what they have.  Nobody can ask for anything more from anyone. 

My husband noticed that his students, who are seventh graders, were pretty crappy readers(my words--I think that anyone over the age of ten who chooses not to read, whatever their skill level, is an idiot).  He asked me about what could be done to increase reading proficiency.  I told him that he needed to work on three areas--fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension.  I also gave him a few ideas as to what he might do to help them improve, including assigning his students to read at least 30 minutes a day.  Research says that kids need to read three to four hours a week to become proficient readers--which is about 30 minutes a day. That's about as long as it takes to get through the main article in a magazine, or to read three chapters in Twilight. The only way to get better at something is to practice.  Reading is no exception. 

So this week my husband and the other seventh grade teachers on my campus sent home reading logs.  The students are to read 30 minutes, jot down a couple of sentences about what they read, and get their parents to sign it. The end result counts as a test grade.  Easy, yes? 

Well, no.  Because a couple of parents in another classroom decided that their children didn't have to do the assignment.  Then they were complete idiots and told their children that they didn't have to do the assignment.  These children announced in class that they didn't have to do the assignment because their parents said so.  These children will be written up for insubordination and will be disciplined because their parents are idiots.  Why are these parents idiots, some might ask.

In the real world, ALL of us, no matter where we are, have to do things that we don't want to do.  We have to be nice to our mother-in-law. We have to take out the trash.  We have to show up for work on time.  We have to clean the horse poop out of the stables. Whatever.  If it's our job/responsibility, we have to do it, whether we think it is stupid, facile, whatever.  If we don't, we don't have a job.  Period. 

People don't realize that the main purpose of a school is to teach children the basic skills they will need to be successful adults.  Their 'job' is to attend school, pass all the appropriate tests, and graduate with a diploma.  On the way they learn all those little, seemingly random, behaviors that make them successful workers who can hold down a job for longer than the two weeks it takes to get their first paycheck.  Crazy skills, like following directions without argument, or showing up for work on time.   Every parent should want their child to be a successful adult.  (If you don't, see a therapist.)  So ponder this:  I'm an employer, your child is my employee, and I tell him to do a particular task, and he says no, because he thinks it's a silly task.  How long do you think your child will have a job?  Or even be employable?  Nobody wants to hire someone who won't do what they are told because they "don't feel like it" or "my dad said that I didn't have to".  (I don't think that those sort of people deserve unemployment benefits, to be honest.  That's like rewarding someone for being a flaming a--hat, pardon my French)

When my child starts school, I will back up his teachers 100%.   If I don't agree with something the teacher is doing, short of physical or emotional abuse, I will speak to the teacher about it.   I will not display inappropriate boundaries by telling my child that his teachers are stupid and that he doesn't have to do what they say.  I will talk to the teacher, and if the teacher doesn't listen to me then I will go up the food chain, but in the meantime my child will show respect to his teachers and will do what he is told to do.  In this way I will teach my child to respect authority as well as to persevere in situations that might be adverse or uncomfortable.  In this way I will teach my child to be a successful adult.  Not just because I love him, but because he has to be able to afford to pay for my nursing home. 

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