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Many years ago, when I was teaching high school biology, I had the pleasure of mentoring a number of student teachers. On one occasion, I decided to give one of my student teachers some freedom so I removed myself from the class he was teaching and went into the office across the hall. I was working on lesson plans there when one of my colleagues’ student teachers came into the office to phone a parent.
The student teacher’s tone was very condescending. Listening in on what was truly an amazing display of unprofessional arrogance, I realized I knew the lady on the receiving end of the phone call. One of her children was in my class and I had had the pleasure of meeting her during parent-teacher interviews. I knew her to be a very nice lady and could not for the life of me understand how a 22-year old student teacher who had no children of her own could be scolding a mom of eight children regarding her responsibilities as a mother!
As soon as the student teacher hung up the phone, I said, “You are very lucky it was not me on the other end of that conversation.” Incredulously, she answered, “Why?” I still marvel at the ignorance of that teacher-to-be. Since she was not my responsibility, there wasn’t much more I could do or say, but I do remember being bewildered. Who did she think she was? The answer: a “professional”, of course!
I read an article the other day that brought that episode back from the annals of my fading memory. The article was addressing teacher concerns over parental interference during online classes. Online classes, you will remember, were implemented due to the continuation of provincially mandated COVID-19 lockdowns.
The article spoke of how the new world dynamics are presenting parents with a front row seat to their children’s education. Parents are finding it difficult not to get involved, either because their child needs individual attention or the parent is concerned about what is being taught and how things are being conducted. The school is no longer a black box disconnected from the parents, but rather wide open for all to see.
One can understand why parents are getting involved, but why are teachers upset with them for doing so? In fact, the article told of parents being chastised by teachers for being disruptive, interrupting classes, and interfering with teachers.
Not only is there general disapproval regarding parent involvement in their children’s education, but teachers are frustrated with constantly being monitored and critiqued, as well as discouraged with “a barrage of emails and phone messages from parents overstepping their role”.
Much more was included in the article which clearly demonstrated there is a major tug-of-war occurring over who is responsible for children’s education. Schools and boards are even setting boundaries and rules for proper parental conduct!
Wow! Shades of the past! But, is it really from the past or is it possible that forced online programming is exposing something that has always existed, even if it has not been obvious?
Have you ever noticed that those who set the “boundaries” are the ones most likely to breach them? This is, in fact, what has happened in this battle of authority between the school and the parents. After all, who has the legitimate authority here? First clue, who gave them birth? Second clue, where do children spend most of their time? Third, who has the greatest potential to have the most lasting effect on the children?
I can understand teachers’ concerns and frustrations, as they are just trying to do their jobs. Still, they should gleefully welcome parent involvement. After all, if parents have the authority over their children’s education, are teachers not working for parents?
Back to my original story: While I fully disagreed with the student teacher’s conduct toward the mother, I also understood that being fresh out of college gave the young teacher a false understanding regarding professionalism. While likely being encouraged to “go forth and be professional in your conduct”, this lady had misunderstood obtaining a degree with being a professional. Her conduct clearly demonstrated this.
Teachers still believe they are the professionals in education and parents occupy the secondary role of assisting them to properly educate the children. This is truly a perversion, but it is the way it is within the school system.
The article concluded by stating that the problem started when children were sent home due to the lockdown. Really? Perhaps the author should have said the lockdown showed parents what is really going on under the cover of school.
Those of you who have questioned the claims being made respecting authority and professionalism are wise to have rightfully declared your place in the education of your children by bringing them home where there are no competing interests. Otherwise, you would likely be one of those parents being chastised and scolded for taking an interest in your children’s education by “professional educators” who may not even have children of their own.