I read this beautiful blog article over the weekend that a handful of my teacher friends posted on Facebook. It was from a parent’s perspective about her son’s teacher who is doing some really special things and I love it. As a parent, I can only pray and hope that one day both of my kids have teachers just like this, teachers who really truly care about their students, about them being kind, about those kids who are lonely, isolated or having trouble making friends.
But…there was one tiny thing about this article that got to me at the closing in the last couple of paragraphs. The woman wrote, “You are the first responders, the front line, the disconnection detectives, and the best and ONLY hope we’ve got for a better world.”
I am taking this small excerpt out of a lengthy article, but as a daughter and a mother, this general attitude bothers me…
When I look back over my 17 years of formal education, I had some really spectacular teachers who most definitely left their marks in my life and fostered my love for learning. Teachers who I still look up to and keep in contact with today. Teachers who mentored me, coached me in sports and were family friends. I loved learning. I loved school and I hope my children have a teacher who cares as much as this teacher clearly does. It’s inspirational and profound what she’s doing and a great example of teaching-done-right.
But I can only think of 2 people that have had the biggest and most permanent influence on my character – my mom and dad. Hands down, my parents taught me everything I understand about being a Christian woman in this crazy world. They were the best example I could ever have for being honest, hard-working, Jesus-loving people. They taught me about responsibility and about being loving and honest. They were a living example of a real, dedicated marriage. With a large family, they were completely unselfish, continuously sacrificial and always forgiving. They were my biggest encouragers and supporters and taught me everything I need to know to make a difference in the world. My mom is my best friend and my dad is my super hero. They were my ONLY hope for molding me into a confident woman who can take on the world and make it a better place. THEY were the first responders in my life for everything.
To say that teachers are the best and ONLY hope for a better world seems like an insult (unintentional, I’m sure) to the parents, like mine, who are trying to mold and raise kind-hearted, compassionate children into aware, responsible adults. Parents who discipline their kids with a firm but loving hand to teach them respect and manners. Parents who teach their kids about service to others and being empathetic with those in need. To say that teachers are the disconnection detectives is dismissing the parents who communicate regularly with their kids, who are so involved with their kids’ lives that they know everything about them, who understand when they are feeling lonely or isolated. To say that teachers are the first responders is skipping over the two people who love these children more than anyone in this world and are the first to kiss their boo-boos, the first shoulder they cry on, the first person they turn to when upset, the first phone call after good news.
And on the other end of the spectrum…it’s not fair to the teachers for parents to assume they’ll take on this responsibility. Far too many parents have a hands-off approach when it comes to child-rearing and feel that their kids will learn everything they need to know from school. Last time I checked, teachers are not glorified babysitters. Most teachers are underpaid as it is (my mother and sister are both teachers and can attest to this) and many have earned their Masters degrees. These are highly-educated people doing something they love for little monetary return and yet parents expect them to discipline their own kids? Not even discipline, but molding them into kind, brave kids? That doesn’t happen in a classroom nor should it. In a world of bullying and school shootings, this teacher’s methods seem focused and targeted at preventing this – which is so fantastic – but I believe school is not where a bully or a maniac learns these things; home is. Yes, it can be reinforced and encouraged at school, but I think many parents don’t realize that children are so incredibly influenced by their family and learn things like that right from their own home.
I can’t help but think of my own children and maybe I’m being a bit possessive over them – but I would never want or expect a teacher to take on that responsibility for my kids. I want to fulfill that role for my children. I want to have the biggest influence in my children lives to guide them and be there through everything. I look at my 3-year old daughter and she literally wants to be exactly like me. She talks like me, wants me to put make-up on her (I refuse) and curl her hair (I refuse) and mimics everything I do. She is a sponge, soaking in every little thing I say and how I behave. I am her entire world and there is a great power and a great responsibility that comes with being a parent.
It’s time parents stop looking to the teachers and schools to fix their own children or blame them for all the world’s problems. It’s time parents step up to the challenge of making this world a better place on their own through their children.