This is a guest Post I did for Shelly Terrell’s Blog, TEACHER REBOOT CAMP, back on Friday, July 24th, 2009. It was one of my first toe-dipping experiences in the world of blogging. Shelly was very kind and encouraging. She also formatted this in a way that I would never have thought. I am grateful to her for starting me blogging.
I thought about this topic recently and considered doing a new post, but after revisiting my guest Post, I thought a resurrection might be as effective. I guess the problems are still here even after almost two years. Evidently, few people read or implemented my suggestions.
Parents, Who Needs Them?
After tweeting about schools needing to teach parents about educational technology, I was quite surprised to find out that the idea was widely tweeted all over the twitter-sphere. This is geek speak for a message being sent and resent around on Twitter. I imagine that even Ashton Kutcher read my thought. Since neither he, nor Demi, tweeted me back however, I have no way of knowing for sure, but I hold out hope.
Parents, A Problem for Teachers?!
I was a single and very arrogant high school teacher in the beginning of my career in the early ‘70’s. I made certain observations of parents in general.
- When most parents came to our school building, they were not there to praise their child’s teacher. This was a problem for teachers.
- Many parents caused administrators to react to requests, resulting in edicts and orders for teachers. This was a problem for teachers.
- Parents attended Board of Education meetings demanding and getting changes resulting in administrators giving edicts and orders for teachers. This was a problem for teachers.
- Parents’ Night required teachers to come back to school at night wearing jackets and ties for the men and dresses for the women. This was a problem for teachers.
- As a result I concluded that parents were a problem for teachers. To further this “well-founded opinion,” I came to realize that students did their best to block parents from their world in school. They would always share the negatives with their parents but rarely the positives. Again, this was a problem for teachers.
Because everyone in the system reacts to parents, sometimes policies are formed around what administrators perceive as the least objectionable policy in order to make the parents happy. These are policies, which are not solely based on the advancement of learning. These were my observations and not necessarily facts.
Wearing the Parental Shoes
My life as well as my perceptions and observations all changed when I became a parent of two daughters, four years apart. Now, I observed that in elementary school children were enthusiastic about learning, and as a parent, I was with them every step of the way. I knew what they did, and how they did it. As they moved to the middle school, I was less and less involved. By the time they got to high school it was a dinner discussion.
My observation now has been that as parents become less involved with their child’s education, the children became less involved with learning. I know, “The chicken or the egg?” theory.
Technology is Changing our Schools
Now we reach the age of Technology. Classrooms begin to look different. Things can be done in schools that were not even conceived two years ago. All this is taking place while some parents are saying that they cannot even program the VCR. The kids have to do it. By the way, it is now a DVR. I can never understand why some adults pride themselves in being computer illiterate.
It is now time to add up all of my observations and try to make something of this which will benefit everyone.
- Parents who are involved with their child’s education will see a child who is involved in learning.
- Some teachers, who may feel threatened by parents, must still attempt to involve them.
- There may be some administrators making technology decisions based on what they think will please the parents. They need to know that parents have knowledge of what is needed to help their child learn. Parents, if made comfortable with the technology, can embrace the technology and understand its purpose in the curriculum not only to enhance learning, but to make their child competitive in a technology-rich, work environment.
Why Schools Need Edtech Parent Workshops
Schools should conduct parent workshops to explain and demonstrate technology in education.
- Parents need to know how it is applied in school, as well as out of school, applications.
- We need to teach them the do’s and don’ts of the internet if they are to prepare their child for the real world, unfiltered and competitive.
- We need to have people make decisions based on learning and not lack of understanding or fear.
- The more the parents know, the more they can be partners in their child’s education.
The answer should be obvious when asked, “Parents, who needs them?”