Thursday, October 28, 2010


The teachers say they want to communicate with the parents, so why don't they listen to a single word we say?

I have prepared the following lecture to deliver to my daughter's hapless math teacher, Mr. Q:

"You say you want to communicate with me, so we need to find a method of communication that works for both sides.

Your proposed method, where you send my daughter home with a quiz that I'm supposed to sign, and then she forgets all about it, and then you tell her she's got a strike because she forgot to get my signature, is not a method that works for me.  In fact, it offends me.  It makes me angry.  Therefore, that's not a useful method of communication between you and me."

If he's listened to that much, he's bound to object, as he already has, that some of the parents like signing the quiz and sending him a little note (which he leaves space for) on the quiz itself.  And here's my reply:

"If some parents like to communicate by signing the quiz, bully for them.  They are welcome to do so.  Make it optional and let every parent decide how they would like to communicate with you.

You, the teacher, also have veto power.  For instance, I might propose that I would like to communicate with you by calling you at home at 3:00 in the morning and screaming in your ear.  If that method doesn't work for you, just say so, and we'll look for a mutually agreeable solution."

Now that wasn't hard, was it?


  1. By "communicate" they mean that the school gets to tell you to jump and you get to ask "how high?" The schools have opened a can of worms with all this "parents as partners" stuff. I think that the intention, at least in part, is to abdicate some of their responsibility for educating the children and place it on the parents but they never imagined that some parents will take a more active role in crafting their child's educational experience. Sometimes I wonder if the educators actually have the kids' best interests at heart and are just misguided at times, or if much of the nonsense we see is ego driven on the teachers' parts.

  2. They're interested in a specific type of partner -- a silent one.

  3. PsychMom says...I don't think they really understand the concept of partnership. What partnership works when:

    a) one partner isn't allowed into the other's
    space, (i.e. lock school doors and parents
    having to wait outside to collect their kids.)
    b) meetings only happen on one partner's turf
    c) there is a clear power imbalance..parents
    have zero power.
    d) there is no gain from the partnership for
    either side. Really, the school can only
    have a partnership with the student, whom
    they serve. Parents get nothing from gets nothing from parents (in
    terms of teaching and education)

    If schools started talking about the RELATIONSHIP between home and school, the point that we parents are making would become a lot clearer, I think. It takes the burden off parents to be surrogate teachers. A partnership between teachers and parents assumes parents have a teaching role (equivalent to teachers). I expect the teacher to be no more a parent than I should be expected to be a teacher. But the parents' role is to support their child and take care of them so that they are healthy and well rested and properly fed and dressed for school. The teacher's role is to facilitate learning for 6 hours a day and provide a safe, healthy environment in which this happens.

    Very different from partnerships, I think

  4. Kim made a really good point re: ego driven nonsense at schools. At my child's school, the teachers are brought up on stage at Back To School night and applauded for the high test scores (this is an elementary school). The kids are treated very poorly, the principal is abrasive and thoughtless, and the teachers are given all the credit for "great test scores." The kids have tons of homework and tests but the teachers (and Stepford Moms) can brag about the high scores.

  5. Anonymous, your neat tidy succinct paragraph says it all. Brava (or bravo) to you for telling it exactly as it is.

    My daugher that the worst teacher in 5th grade. She was grim, rigid, abusive and played favorites. She didn't teach and sent home tons of homework. It was GT class so the kids aced the tests. Guess who got all the credit?

    I do credit this teacher for one seminal moment. She paved the path for homeschooling. I only wish I hadn't taken so long to decide. As scared as I was, I finally blurted out to myself, you couldn't possibly do worse! That was the watershed moment. What a low threshold I had here. I couldn't possibly do worse!

  6. Correction: My daughter HAD the worst teacher...

  7. PsychMom asks..

    I'm curious HomeworkBlues, how did it work socially for your daughter, to be homeschooled? I have an extremely group-oriented kid...she's like a lemming. Oh, we're all jumping off this cliff now...OK! Let's go.
    She and her friends remind me of a flock of geese on the playground, with my child either in the lead or close behind the leader. School is her whole social world...I don't know what she'd do without it.

    But then I'm reminded by the title of your blog, that what I want is a kid friendly school. I have always believed our school was that..but now the type of kid that it's friendly to is a bit of a worry for me. And do I really want my child to become one of those children?

    Can I do a better job? Am I offering her more or better opportunities than what her school can?
    One reality I have to recognize too is that of all the major battles my daughter and I have experienced, they all have had to do with school. .....getting up and ready for school...wearing appropraite clothing for school...completing homework tasks....completing projects....dealing with playdate arrangements......arguing about school trips (my daughter always wants me to go, but I can't always because of work)...dealing with mishaps and disagreements on the playground...naughty behaviour at school. Granted with school being the biggest part of her life, it only makes sense that that's where the conflict would be, but still, it makes you wonder...Would we still have the same level of conflict if she wasn't in school?