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Apr 13

Chris Smeaton

Schools adjust to parenting styles

I was born in the early 60’s and grew up in a traditional family setting for the time. Dad worked and for the majority of my school days, especially when I was young, I had a stay-at-home mom. We always had time for family supper and found time to attend church. I had a fairly strict upbringing; my parents instilled a high level of expectation and I always felt loved and supported. “Supported” is an interesting concept! While I always knew my parents had my back, when I was wrong, their support came from assisting me in making it right rather than doing it for me. Their support allowed me to grow a tough skin and compassionate heart, as well as learn to problem solve and critical think! Jumping in and saving me when I stumbled was not their way but, neither was it to allow me to drown! There is a fine line between the two and I would suggest that they got it right most of the time.

They also had high expectations for me at school. Although I was a pretty good athlete and well involved in sports, school always had to be a priority. Given some significant injuries in my late teens, I was fortunate that school was always made a priority, as it allowed me to go to university when my playing days were over.  There were no school councils at the time but they got to know my teachers at interview times, which they never missed and attended school functions that were open to parents. For that time, they would have been considered engaged parents!

Fast forward to today and you will note that the world around us and parenting as a whole are very different. In her recent article, author Kari Kubiszyn Kampakis writes about the 10 Common Mistakes Parents Today Make (Me Included). This is not meant to be an attack on parenting skills, simply an acknowledgement that being “supported” is a vastly different concept today. She paraphrases psychiatrist Paul Bohn from an article entitled How to Land Your Kid in Therapy:  

[M]any parents will do anything to avoid having their kids experience even mild discomfort, anxiety, or disappointment — “anything less than pleasant,” as he puts it — with the result that when, as adults, they experience the normal frustrations of life, they think something must be terribly wrong.

And because of this, it is always amazing to me when society in general tells the education system to return to the way it was! We don’t have the same society, same family structures or the same students coming into our classrooms and therefore, education cannot be the same either! While we may wish that all students came to school ready to learn and eventually knowing how to learn, the fact remains that many (25% or greater) have some vulnerability coming into school. Add a shrinking middle class and an increased poverty rate and schools cannot be the same!

So the backlash against Inspiring Education and the transformation of our system simply astounds me. Schools are simply adjusting to society and parenting styles. And unless society and parenting styles are going to radically change, schools will continue to need to adjust.  However, there will be a breaking point! With classrooms continuing to become increasingly more diverse, we will need invest in a societal action plan! This is not about more money but about all of us taking on more responsibility and providing the right support!

Children are our future, the adults of tomorrow! They need to be loving and compassionate but also resilient! Schools can adjust up to a point but parents and society must be willing to make a shift too! We can’t go back to the good ole’ days but we can create better days for the future of our children!

 

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