Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Parents Today v. 1960

Cartoon by Daryl Cagle
I saw this thanks to a social networking post by Joe Brennan today and I thought it was blog-worthy. The cartoon definitely depicts the atmosphere in my school. I mean, we have to require that every single assignment that has a grade is signed by a parent and returned (and I have to keep them). We must document every move we make because its not uncommon to be challenged with such nonsense as, "My child never took that test," or "My child says you never taught this."

I got a recent angry note from a parent right before Spring Break about the amount of homework I'd been giving. Turns out there was only one HW assignment (and 3 tests) the entire month. After I responded with an explanation in an email, I never heard back from the parent. I asked for clarification because I was confused at the source of his concern. I offered to make it better, if he could just clarify what the actual problem was. No response.

Really? Does every single thought need to be said? Would our parents have ever behaved in such  a childish manner? Do parents today honestly think we are "out to get" their kids? I mean, I LOVE these kids. It's the brightest part of my day when I see them come in first thing in the morning! I spend hours every day thinking of ways to do special things with their children.

Why is this happening and what can we do about it? Are the parents of the students you teach obsessively defensive about their children as well?

I'd love to hear your thoughts.


techamateur said...

I do agree that parents misplace the blame. It seems that it is always the teacher's fault. However, I have not had the issues you have talked about. I do not even require tests be signed ( is that bad??).I have been teaching for about 24 years now. It use to be that the parent blamed the child and did not want any lip. What the teacher said was the truth no matter what. Now, the child speaks the "truth" and the teacher is questioned. It's a shame but thats the way it is. All we can do is stay positive and be there for those that need us and believe in us.

MaryKK said...

Oh my goodness, same discussion today w/principal - a parent went to him with an issue instead of me - what does that say about a parent who does not come to me with concerns first? Thank goodness most parents are supportive and a pleasure to work with!

Lee Kolbert said...

And what does it say about an administrator that gives a parent a forum knowing there's been no prior discussion with the teacher. It happens here too. There's an incident recently where a parent has been permitted to have 3 meetings with the teacher and principal over the same nonsense. At what point does someone with authority say, "enough?"

kaurukamiya said...

I had a colleague whose student has a lawyer-parent and threatened to sue the school because his child won't be able to graduate. But when shown all the evidence of the child performance - or lack there of - he stopped clamoring for lawsuit and started asking for consideration and "begging" for the child to pass her subject, so that his child could graduate.

Sometimes parents think that their child is the best in everything - why wouldn't you, he's our offspring (a small reflection of you - some would think). They would consider the education as just something to go through.

Although some parents are quite opposite. They would demand that a teacher is not giving enough assignments or projects, or that some subject is to be taught this way. Hey, we welcome suggestions...just we also try to make sure it fits the curriculum, the ability of the students and time frame.

It's good though that most parents are really supportive of the school programs and their child's progress. Unlike bad then.

apolloose said...

When my child started a new school for 1st grade she was placed in TITLE I(for reading issues) - Wtf? Really!!! What the 'eff did I do WRONG, my kid is ONLY 6 - she can barely read? S0, what do THEY want from an 8 yr.old - - Newton's 3rd Law?

Who says my KID needs extra-help! I was there the next day, and for two years I had to hold my TONGUE! I joined the Parent Action Committee, and went to a Title 1 conference in 2007. She began reading "their" way - really well.

I mean I know I know how to read, but when I asked what they were TESTING for in 2006, 2007, 2008 - It was DBLS(sic) and a bunch of OTHER PSYCHO-BABBLE B/S ALL I had to do was READ with my daughter, and NOW she is OKAY!

But, I have been reading to my daughter from the DAY she was born?

What is so different, now?

Coach Burk said...

It is a comfort to know I am not the only teacher that has dealt with these issues. I just recently wrote a quick blog post about what is the role of the Parent in their Child's Education.

Many of my parents are older than I am, so I feel they think they can overpower my philosophies with their age.

As many failing stories, I have successful stories. I had a parent three years ago that was livid with my teaching style. I put a lot of responsibilities on the students. I know they will forget and fail, but that is part of learning and we will work through it. This parent who was a Psych Professor came to me with so called research that kids her daughters age couldn't think critically and they need to have their hands held. Fast Forward to this year, I have her son and the mom couldn't be any happier with my teaching style. She finally got it and saw that the hard work in my class has made her daughter an independent learner and better off. We plant seeds to succeed, as a teacher we don't always get to see that plant blossom.

Lisa Matherson said...

You'll love this story. A parent called our Central Office (CO) about her child. The CO emailed the principal to investigate. The principal pulled child's record and saw that he had no referrals or anything of the sort. Went and questioned the child about why his mother would call the CO. After several minutes of discussion the child realized a reason why his mother called the CO. His mother didn't like his girlfriend and wanted the school to do something about it.

Kjell said...

So true, so true. Seems to be the some all over the developed world. Easy to blame someone else if you fail. I use to ask the question - How have you contributed?

Unknown said...

Parents just want to believe their children "unconditionally"- the problem is- they are children. I find when parents are not together- children tend to manipulate their parents & out of guilt they behave irrationally

Anonymous said...

Somewhere we have forgotten the idea of responsibility and ownership. Thanks for pointing that out.It really is ok to fail and learn from it. Even in my coaching I have lost a few games before winning a championship!
Again thanks for the reminder! - Mike

Amy Boehman-Pollitt said...

I agree with you. It was one of the reasons why I left teaching in the classroom. How did we get to the point where students have no accountability and parents are okay with that? I taught on the elementary and the college level and saw the same thing at both levels. Ridiculous. I love your cartoon, by the way!

Lee Kolbert said...

Thanks everyone for your comments. Apparently, this is an issue world-wide. I wonder if its also an issue in certain countries where teachers are held to a higher level of respect; like Japan.

Jamie (@fiteach) said...

I love this post. We get it here too. I have generally had very good relationships with parents, or have been able to create good relationships if they didn't start off that way. There has only been one case where that hasn't worked out for me. This parent told a colleague that I had given them PTSD because I required more of their child than they felt she was capable of... Oh dear. Really?!?! That is truly an insult to anyone who suffers from this horrible syndrome. Luckily for me, through 10 years of teaching, this is the only really bad experience I have had with parents. Anyway, thanks for posting.

Anonymous said...

Bless you for all of your hard work! My favorite part of your post was when you wondered if parents really thought that you were out to get your kids - and that you LOVED their kids - it was the brightest part of your day. That is EXACTLY how I felt when I was teaching. Decisions I made were the decisions I would want made (most of the time - no one is perfect) for my own kids.