I haven’t written anything for a while – life has been pretty busy, what with starting off all the teaching programmes for the year, training a new teacher to help me at one of the schools, travelling to rural NSW for a stint teaching there and doing a few concerts with one of my favourite Aussie cellists.
But now I find myself back in Sydney having the same conversation to a number of people, so I’m hoping if I write it here, it’ll be done – and I won’t bore anyone with it any more (all my friends breathe a sigh of relief).
I have to deal with a number of parents of children in my teaching job. I also work with a fair whack of teachers. Nearly every teacher I work with I would defend without question. I have found these people to be fair, hugely overworked yet still cheerful, really good at dealing with large groups of children, able to assess abilities of their little charges and just generally excellent people. (Given a choice, I would hang out with a bunch of teachers over a bunch of IT guys/ stock brokers/ insert profession here any day. Sure, there will be a few moments of organisation, and a bit of shop talk, but on the whole, these are pretty amazing people. Unsung heroes in my books.)
The parents I have to deal with are my age, or a bit older. Gen X, and then whatever the generation is just before that. And we are letting our kids down. Here’s a few thoughts from me. I know I don’t have kids. And I know it’s really dangerous territory to criticise someones parenting – I have lost friends before, doing that. But I think that sometimes these things need to be said.
What you, as a parent, see at home, is not always what you see in the classroom. Your little Braydon/ Tarquin / insert name here may be quite different in a group of 25. S/he may not deal with being one of many, and so behaviours that you as a parent think are so important at home may not be so valued as a group in the classroom. Most people, when they grow up, are going to have to work as part of a group or team – so this is a valuable skill to have as a little person.
Your child is probably not talented or gifted. And that is completely OK. It’s pretty easy to spot that, as a teacher. It’s also really easy to spot bright kids. And being bright does not make your child talented and gifted. And what’s wrong with just being of medium ability? Teachers do not like children because they are bright. They like kids who have personality, good manners, and a bit of spark. It makes not a jot of difference to the people teaching your offspring if they are bright or not. If your school/ teacher does not say that your child is talented do not go up there demanding tests, or asking for special treatment. Quite frankly, it will make things more difficult for your child.
If a teacher tells off your kid for doing something accept it. They are not perfect people. They may not have done their homework. Or their violin practise. Or they may have been revolting in a group. It is not because they are bored/ overlooked/ hard-done-by/ disliked. They have simply done the wrong thing. Teachers do not harbour grudges towards little people – that’s part of their job. LET YOUR KIDS ACCEPT THEY DO WRONG STUFF. Do NOT fight their battles. You will not always be there. How will they develop any kind of coping strategies or social niceties if you are always there, fighting on their behalf. Do not believe every word that comes out of their mouth. Kids learn from an early age to manipulate situations. If I had gone home as a child and told my mother I got told off by a teacher, she would have probably told me I deserved it (not quite that harshly, but you get my drift). She would not have gone marching up to the school, demanding answers. Or told me I was in the right.
We are breeding little monsters here. Kids answer back to teachers. They think they are always in the right. The have real trouble coping with failure and the word ‘no’. If they haven’t been picked for the zone sports team, so be it. They just weren’t good enough. If they’ve been told to practise more, then that’s because they aren’t reaching their potential, and need a bit of help from you, or a bit more inner drive. If they’ve been told off, they deserved it.
Just because you have been to school does not make you a teacher.
Let your kids make their mistakes. Let them fail. Let them be told off. Let them deal with disappointment. Let them be mediocre. They will have to deal with this later in life, when you are not there, bellowing on their behalf. Let their teachers do their jobs. They know what they are doing. Accept how your child is perceived by others.
There. I’ve said it all now.