Monday, January 26, 2009

Parenting in the 21st century

Current trends in popular psychology have psychologists telling parents that we're working too hard at the expense of quality time with our kids.

But current trends in education are detracting from this quality time as never before.

How often did our own parents:

1. face pressure to volunteer in elementary school classrooms, where the potential chaos of today's group-centered discovery learning and record numbers of field trips means that students require more adult supervision than ever before?
2. have to teach skills that schools once taught, like handwriting, phonics, and the standard algorithms of arithmetic?
3. have to drive kids around to libraries, and art supply stores, and other kids' houses for group-centered, arts & crafts-intensive research projects?
4. have to help our kids, as young as 6, through complicated, multi-step homework directions, interactive math games, and tasks like finding household objects that come in groups of 7 or 11?

My mother, like many of her generation, didn't work. She volunteered at school once or twice, but teachers generally turned down her offers, making it clear that they didn't need parental help. She relied on schools to teach us academics, and, once we started getting homework in 4th grade, could confidently expect that we'd be able to do most of it on our own.

She spent much of her time volunteering for civic activities, and, when we were at home, talking and playing games with us.


Dawn said...

I've watched school parents around me who are doing this stuff for their kids. What always amazes me is when they know I homeschool and say, "I could never do that!" and then go on about how much work and patience it must take to homeschool.

I don't think they realize how much they do.

lgm said...

When I was a child, my school clearly defined the parent's teaching responsibility. It was to send a note in with the undone homework and notify the teacher if the child was struggling. The teacher would do the actual teaching. My district (Dept of Defense Europe) still has this policy.

In my child's public school district in NY, I am to make up whatever the class didn't get to. The penalty for not doing so is inelegibility for college prep courses. If I want my child to have the education I did I must tutor on the side and pay the community college for the senior year courses as it would be elitist to offer Calculus at the high school. I went to small schools. My kids have over 600 in their grade and so many specialists and paras that the principal has to develop a parking lot schedule to go along with the staff schedule. Academics was not the focus until NCLB came along.