Teachers, parents must work together

By Clyde Davis: Columnist

School is, by this time, almost universally on summer break. It seems an appropriate time, then, to focus on teachers of all levels and the gifts which they bring to our world.

The attitude of some families came to light, once again, in a recent conversation. A person in his mid-20s was expounding on the fact that, when he was growing up, anytime he had problems at school, his parents would go in and confront the teacher. No, not resolve the issue; confront the teacher.

Unfortunately, their assumption that their little darling was always in the right is, so far, evident in the way his life is playing out. We don’t do our children, our families, our schools, or our society any favor when we don’t allow the deserved consequences of bad behavior.

To be sure, the days of “teacher is always right” are long gone, and rightly so. Teachers ought to earn and deserve respect, and the majority do. However, they should not have to fight an uphill battle for it.

There is a real triangle relationship involved in this matter. The school system cannot function without parental support, anymore than the family ought to undertake the mission of educating children without the guidance of the professional educators. I realize this may irk some homeschooling families, but I stand by my statement.

There is, currently, a shortage of qualified teachers, and I tend to believe that the issue is not salary, but rather lack of respect. When one spends four years in college, then enters a profession where work toward a master’s degree will be expected, why should one have to be treated as a lackey?

I pause when I hear young education majors talking about “keeping parents happy.” I pause because this is an ambiguous statement.

Taken one way, it could be completely valid, meaning that cooperation of which I spoke above. However, I hope it does not mean a fear of, and willingness to placate, the parents of students.

Those of us trained as educators are unique, in this sense. Up to a certain age, society requires children to be in school. If I do not like my doctor, he will invite me to find another doctor. If I do not like my attorney, she will invite me to find another attorney. If I do not like the law enforcement professional answering my call — well, it is still the law.

But the attitude of increasing numbers of parents, in our time, is like those in the case above — antagonistic to the education system. Not surprisingly, most of those parents seem not to have done well in school.

Teachers and systems need to be creative, no question. A good example, on which I have been doing a lot of reading, has to do with the documented differences in how boys learn, as opposed to how girls learn. However, a good teacher, like a good doctor, does accept suggestions and constructive critique.

Communicate.

Teachers shape the future. Let’s work with them, not at cross purposes.