Sunday, July 08, 2007

Blame Parents, Not Teachers!

This was the title of an article written by Ed Christian, an English and Biblical literature professor for twenty years at the Kutztown University of Pennsylvania, USA.

This was written in response to an issue in the US so to whether schools should be blamed for their students’ failure to learn. Mr. Christian believes that the problems in education are the parents’ fault, that “more money, smaller classes, and national testing may help a little, but they won’t solve the problems. Only parents can solve them.”

He gave ten suggestions as to what parents could do. I do not necessarily agree with all of his ideas, but they are worth sharing with you because some of his observations are very relevant to us.

First, he believes that we should get rid of the TV, or at least, limit its use. An hour or two a week is already considered plenty. Children should be encouraged to watch nature or history programs and carefully chosen videos.

I agree. My own daughter watches National Geographic and Animal Planet programs but I also allow her to watch Disney Channel and selected programs in Cartoon Network on weekends.

She also gets to watch on weekdays as a sort of reward. If she finishes her assignments and studies early, the time prior to her 9pm bedtime becomes her “free time”, during which she could do whatever she pleases.

She’s still a child. She should still be allowed to enjoy the things that most children would enjoy doing. To deprive her of these joys would be like chopping off a big chunk of her childhood.

Second, Mr. Christian urged parents to get rid of video games as the excitement exhausts children and make them think that everything else is boring.

But then, wouldn’t all work and no play make Juan a dull boy as well? Wouldn’t it make better sense if, again, we just limit this type of activity during weekends?

Third, “limit computer use to educational games, writing and learning to type, and even then, not more than an hour a day. Chat rooms and Web surfing, as generally used, have little to do with learning.”

Fourth, “forget about competitive sports. Playing sports consumes study time and can leave students too exhausted or excited to study. Running or walking a few miles or shooting hops for half an hour are fine, but the competition of team sports is wasted time and effort.”

This one’s absolutely bulls--t! If this guy could have his way, all children would turn into sedentary overweight bookworms who’d be scared shitless at the slightest suggestion of sun or sweat!

Child development should be wholistic and should include a variety of activities such as sports. Focus should not be confined to academics alone.

Fifth, “buy books; visit libraries; have books in the house.”

Sixth, “read to your children for at least half an hour every day. If you choose books that are interesting but a little above your children’s level, their interest will lift them higher.

I agree. Reading time can also double as bonding time between parent and child.

Seventh, “keep your students home after supper. Little useful learning takes place in malls, restaurants, or cars.”

Eighth, “early to bed. Students who have read for three hours after supper often grow sleepy. If they’re asleep by 9:00 or 10:00, they’ll be alert in school and learn more.”

Ninth, “limit phone calls to five minutes each. Hours of telephone gossip are not educational.”

Tenth, “if you have a sense of wonder that makes you continually fascinated by the world, share it with your children.”

We parents play a very crucial role in the education of our children. As Mr. Christian observed, we can help them develop a love for learning if we make learning interesting for them. How? For one, provide them with a rich learning environment in the home. When it’s “no TV” for the child, it should be “No TV” for everyone else. We cannot expect the child to be able to focus if the TV is blaring nearby.

As a final note, Mr. Christian stated: “True, implementing these suggestions will change the lifestyle of parents as well, but isn’t the success of our children worth the effort?”

Amen to that!

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