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Every once in a while, perhaps more often than it should, an article comes up which elicits strange feelings of anger mixed with sympathy for the poor fellow (or lady) who could be so deluded!
Take, for instance, that article written by a Harvard professor who really believed that home education should be outlawed because… well, let’s just say because it is not at all like public education.
Then there was the article entitled “Parenting is not Teaching / Teaching is not Parenting.” This one caused me to seriously pity the poor individual who could come up with such a ridiculous statement.
It is easy to imagine that the writer has no children of his own. In fact, he was concerned because the COVID-19 school closures saw children default to playing rather than learning. Really! I had no idea that children went into a comatose brain state when playing! If so, why then do children bother to play at all? Could it be that the purpose of playing is precisely to learn?
Implying that only certificated teachers are truly qualified to expand a child’s experience beyond the limited environment of the home clearly shows where this person is coming from. Firstly, he presumes a familial environment is dangerous to societal expectations. I am not sure where this person thinks families reside, but I am sure it has something to do with “society.”
The second presumption made by the writer is more a matter of generalizing the motivation of those who would aspire to be teachers. True, there are some fantastic, dedicated teachers who really inspire children to greater things. We should all applaud the efforts of these super teachers, but what percentage of those employed by the local school district fit that description?
One could say that I may have experienced an anomaly in my teaching career, but I certainly did not find super teachers to be the norm. I kept moving from one school system to another as I was generally disgusted with the lack of care and dedication most of my esteemed colleagues demonstrated.
No doubt I had the pleasure of working with some outstanding individuals, yet most were simply adequate in their teaching performances. In other words, most were just doing a job. Nothing more, unless of course one takes complaining into account! More disturbing, some of these “teachers” actually despised their students and had nothing but contempt for parents.
Now, the writer of this article did speak truth when he stated that we rarely remember a teacher for their curricular contribution to our lives. During my teaching days I had the privilege of mentoring many student teachers. I would start each mentorship with a few important questions including a description of the favourite teacher of their recollection.
No student teacher ever talked about a teacher having impacted their lives with knowledge, but rather good teachers were remembered for their caring nature. I would then instruct the student teachers to go forth and do likewise. Then I would clearly communicate that even the world’s best teacher could never replace a student’s parents.
On this point I agreed with the writer of the article. Don’t expect a teacher to be your child’s parent. However, I do not believe there is such a thing as a parent or any individual for that matter, who is not a teacher. Whether influencing positively or negatively, every action of every individual in contact with that child will be seen and emulated or avoided.
Parents were teachers long before certification was invented. In fact, the most well-documented reason for student success in education is that of caring individuals in their lives. Can you think of anyone who cares more than a loving parent? Can you imagine more love and care than parents willing to make much personal sacrifice in order to educate their own children at home?
I agree that teachers should not be parenting, but I completely disagree with the notion that parents can not be teachers. In fact, parents will always be best able to prepare children in whom they have an eternal vested interest than even the best teacher doing it for pay.