Priorities need adjusting

Posted: April 21, 2014 in Writing

As I sit here writing this it is the tail end of Spring Break. Tomorrow the students will be returning to school ready for the home stretch to the end of the year. I love this time of year, and not because the year is almost over. No, I love this time of year because I get to reflect on how much my students have changed over the past seven months. Today I had that pleasant feeling ripped away from me as I was reminded of how much things have changed for educators. Without getting into specifics let me tell you what the underlying issue is. Too many parents have their priorities backwards.

One of the biggest challenges facing teachers is not the students themselves. No, that part is pretty much the same as ever, believe it or not. The basic requirements of a teenager today matches what was needed twenty even thirty years ago. The biggest challenge is the parents. I have always thought of education being a three legged stool. I’m sure I heard that somewhere else, probably from a wise man known as Pete Maxson. The leg that the parents represent is placed too closely to the leg that the students represent, and that is too often in opposition to the teacher. Let me explain.

In the past year alone I have had students miss more time for the sake of leaving for a vacation than any previous year. I understand to some extent the urge to get that family vacation in. Sometimes the options are limited. What I don’t understand is how parents expect me to jump through hoops so that their child won’t fall behind, but when I suggest something that would require them to do something to help their child out with the same work it is met with an “it’s not my problem” attitude. This attitude is then mirrored by the students who then get upset when I tell the that there are only a few opportunities to address the issue. They seem to feel that their vacation is more important than their education, and that idea comes from their parents’ actions.

As a parent myself, I realize that my son’s attitudes about life I’m general are shaded by my own, and not just with school. If I was constantly allowing him to go into school late because he was a little tired, leave school early to just have fun, or not do an assignment because we wanted to away for the weekend he would see education only as something that gets in the way of the fun, and not as something meant to aid in his future endeavors.

So, what is the solution? That is a good question. One that I am not sure I have the answer to, but let me put forth an idea to all parents and future parents. Make your child’s education a priority over vacation. Sure, vacations are a time to connect with our children, and very important. However, if our children don’t value education and work to their fullest to learn and become better problem solvers and thinkers, their chances of taking their children on those same vacations will diminish as they will lack the skills and knowledge to procure the jobs that will allow them to take a vacation. Values go from generation to generation. I am hoping to give my children the highest value for their lives.

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