My family has had teachers for several generations now, and trust me, lazy parents always look for someone else to blame, and of course, occasionally a teacher is less than ideal, but I have yet to find a teacher, who with not unquestioning faith in the teacher, but with undeniable interest in helping their child get the best education possible, that did not respond in a helpful way.
I have long preached three things in life, and so far I have not been convinced otherwise:
1) If you believe in a cause, religious, political or otherwise, if you will donate your time, effort, money, and brainpower in equal measure, you can accomplish a great deal, especially if you recruit other like minded individuals to work with you.
2) If you want to convert others to your faith or politics, show love and compassion and try to help instead of judge and blame.
3) both of the above principles apply completely to your child’s education. No matter the school your child is in, almost no matter who the teacher is, if you will volunteer to help with ANYTHING the teacher sees a need for, if you will donate as much money as you spend on coffee/soda/cigarettes/beer to the classroom.
If you will be a willing partner with your teacher and your child, your child will get a million dollar education!
I have friends who insist that you cant get a good education in the public schools, the teaching is dumbed down, the teachers don’t care, and there is no discipline because the teachers aren’t allowed to touch the kids.
First of all, in Florida and in many other states, most of the school boards actually still allow paddling! I think that is probably a bad idea, but it is the case. I was paddled frequently, and it didn’t seem to do any good….
Second, my three sons have all gone to public schools, and while I was not too closely involved in my oldest son’s education in West Virginia, I think it was pretty good.
Both of my younger sons have had the benefit of a public school education in the great state of Florida. I had a mix of public, private (Christian) and homeschooling. I have always been as involved with my childrens’ education as I could.
My youngest son is still in 4th grade in Palm Beach County. Pretty much from pre K-4 on up to this year, I have had reservations about every one of his teachers. Yes, even his kindergarten teacher who I now consider possibly the greatest teacher ever! But as I offered assistance, depending on my work commitments, from almost daily one year when I was semi unemployed in the Great Recession to an occasional box of printer paper and a thank you note when I was working out of state, I have found each teacher was working harder and more committed than I first suspected.
The coldest, most autocratic seeming teacher has opened up and loved my son and reached out to me or my wife or both to help find the best way to keep my son challenged and focused. To the extent that a child gets a better education at a private institution, and I do not believe that is usually the case, I believe that advantage is because most private schools worth their salt, not only charge you a lot of money, thus making you more invested, literally, but also usually demand a certain amount of volunteer time. If public schools could demand you invest a certain amount of money, and especially a certain amount of time in your child’s education, I am pretty sure your child will learn at least as much as he would from the finest prep school.
The problem with teachers today? Same as it ever was, long hours, not enough respect or appreciation (I actually think the pay isn’t terrible), leading to burnout, and alternatively, leading to a constant fight to keep the child focused engaged and out of trouble. Parents are a child’s most important teacher, and the smart ones know that when they turn their child over to a professional teacher, a team atmosphere works a lot better than a struggle to see who they can blame when Johnny doesn’t do whatever it is he needs to do!