What’s wrong with this story?

Okay, so a new batch of research tells us that children learn more from parents than their teachers. Whether that’s a good or bad thing is a moot point (given some of the parents that frequent supermarkets!) but it’s an acceptable premise.

Taking this a step further (perhaps, even, a giant leap) Education Queensland is telling schools across the state that parents should play a bigger role in their children’s learning.

That’s fine, too. And teachers and Parents & Citizens’ Associations are also supportive. But, perhaps, a little too much so. In fact, I’m starting to smell a rat.

You see, a principals’ association says parents doing more of the teaching would counter a shift in responsibility from parents to schools. I’m sorry, but don’t we send them to school for the very purpose of being educated?

And the P&C association goes way further, saying: “. . . it is the parent’s responsibility to be the educator.”

Now, hold on a moment. Yes, parents can teach their children much that is not the responsibility of educators. And, yes, parents cannot simply absolve themselves of responsibility for the proper upbringing of their offspring.

But this sounds like a concerted attempt to radically revamp the education system.

And there is research quoted by the Queensland Teachers’ Union that says school is responsible for 20% of a child’s learning, with 40% coming from social interaction and the remaining 40% from families. Oh, they didn’t provide the source material for this claim but we’ll assume the research was credible.

Which raises the intriguing issue of what goes on at school? Because, for the life of me, I can’t understand how we can send kids away, five full days a week for 12 years and the system that envelops them during that massive period of time only manages to impart 20% of their learning. Is that a systemic failure or what?

Oh, there are platitudinous statements from the P&C association that this “is not taking away from what the school is doing, it is adding to it.” Can’t quite understand his maths there but . . .

Look, this is a facetious point of view and I am appalled at the manner in which many parents do try to saddle schools and teachers with responsibilities that are unfair. But, equally, it remains a very valid and highly contentious issue as to what teachers are doing when they emerge from twelve years of school with abysmal standards of literacy and numeracy, apart from other deficiencies.

And I say this as a former President of a P&C and as a university lecturer.


Acknowledgement: Tanya Chilcott, The Courier-Mail