Monday, 5 September 2005

Builders’ Houses, Mechanics’ Cars, Teachers’ Children.

Just been to a Parent’s Evening @ the local highschool “Tips for Parents” from a company called ‘The Art of Learning.’ The pitch was developing accelerated learning techniques, hooking into our Emotional Intelligence & the senior students have been taking a series of workshops with this company. The blurb sounded a lot like Karen Boyes Spectrum Learning workshops so I thought I’d go for a nosey. A big focus on setting up our kids for success within the school system – studying, passing exams… Well, I know all that stuff of course but you know it’s the story of the builders’ house being the worst kept in the street. What do I do to encourage ‘school’ success in my children – do I turn off the TV, playstation, hound them to do their homework (even though they say they don’t have any). Well actually, none of the above. Why? Of course I want my kids to succeed but I feel in a sense I’m still bucking the system myself – do I value ‘school’ success? Only for the pathways it can lead you when you get good grades, pass exams, get accepted for scholarships, uni. courses, great careers. So somewhere along the line the intrinsic love of learning that I believe is innate in all of us turns into an external drive for success & who sets the benchmarks for this? & is this when some of our kids lose their motivation because they have to do things rather than want to?
It seems a bit contradictory to me that secondary schools need to bring in external facilitators to motivate our kids & introduce them to learning strategies. If the core business of our schools is learning then why are we not driving this within our schools – why is it an add-on & not an integrated part of our school cultures everyday and not just once a year around exam time? The no. 9 tip for parents was ‘develop a family learning culture’ – how do our schools develop learning cultures & extend this into our school whanau? Instead of helping our kids adapt to the existing system so they can taste success what are we doing to make our school system more adaptive to our kids learning needs? Any courses for our teachers to be reinforcing and supporting this with our kids within the classroom? Short answer – teachers are too busy for all that. Well, hello! What are teachers doing that they are so busy to help our children learn? Trying to cover curriculum content, coming to grips with NCEA, setting & marking ‘work’, trying to figure out how to turn their new laptops on & then use them to record grades on…
OK so what did I learn as a parent? I need to spend more time talking to my kids, taking an interest in their learning, encouraging them to extend their thinking, finding out what sparks their passions & talking, talking more talking. So worth going tonight just for that – I don’t do enough of it.
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