Tuesday, September 2, 2008

On Education: A Good Place to Start

As I said in my previous post, I'm not yet prepared to dive fully into fever swamps of education policy in America. But here's a place we can all start: parental involvement. Daniel Akst shares some good common sense in today's Wall Street Journal, namely, that high-performing students tend to have encouraging, involved parents who focus on education as a collective goal of the whole family. He also scratches the surface of a deep cultural problem that I believe will continue to undermine American education for the foreseeable future, namely the indifference and opposition of many parents toward education. We all complain that many parents don't value education, but nobody seems to acknowledge that many parents actively undermine education. They disparage the curriculum, subvert students' respect for their teachers, and lobby for easier workloads and lower standards. Teachers who try to combat these tendencies are seen as engaging in a power struggle against the families. And there most certainly are some educators who are trying to subvert the influence of families on young students, which just feeds the perception of education as a struggle between opposing camps, instead of the partnership it ought to be.


Elephantschild said...

From the article,
Too many kids are growing up in homes with little emphasis on reading, learning or culture. Nielsen Media Research reports that Americans ages 2 to 17 spend an average of three hours a day watching television, which is way too much for any good student.

That's a core problem, right there.

Sounds like Akst is raising his children pretty much like you and I were.

Elephantschild said...

.... raised.

Sorry, bad grammar.

Elephantschild said...

Something struck me: Akst is actually parenting his kids: Laying down rules, limits, and expectations. Making family meals a priority.

That's called PARENTING.

Do many children fail in school simply because their parents are not parenting them?

Shane said...

Don't get me started on family meals - I was reading in Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma that most of the families who report eating dinner together are actually kinda preparing their own individual meals and then eating them alone in the same general vicinity.

My family and our love for food probably spends a LOT more time together in the kitchen preparing food than eating it in the dining room, but hey, food is the best social lubricant I know (even better than booze!).

But I agree with the central focus of your post - parents are probably the most influential factor in one's academic success, no matter how you define that. Unfortunately, I don't know how to scale that properly to fix our community's attitude towards proper education.