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Many parents today, more than their children, are grade-conscious. They're of the mindset that their kids must excel in school, get the highest marks in every test or paper, and be recognized for their achievements.
That's a lot of pressure on kids. While I agree that children should do their best in their classes, it should not take away enjoyment for learning.
After all, education is more than just studying subjects like Math, English, Science, Social Studies, and Arts. To my mind, more than simply gaining stock knowledge, children should be shown how these apply to real life.
Based on my observation, students these days are too bookish, or more accurately, simply rely on information fed them in school, and worse, from the Internet. What they lack are critical thinking skills and personal development.
And I am puzzled by their reluctance to approach teachers to ask for clarification or guidance about school work, opting instead to second-guess what is required of them instead of getting clear instructions.
When I asked my niece why she or her classmates refuse to communicate with their teachers if the work being asked of them makes little sense or is obscure, she said when a student raises such concerns, teachers always take these as complaints.
And when a student complains, there are certain teachers who mark them, then eventually give them a hard time in class, including poor grades for their output. That's quite unfair, and will certainly not encourage communication between student and teacher.
Even worse are parents who also balk at speaking to teachers during conferences about valid issues as they take their children's word that they will become a target in class if they so much as raise a peep with their teachers.
Aren't parents supposed to be advocating for their children, when they see the kids struggling with school work instead of brushing such concerns aside to avoid confronting mentors?
If they truly want their kids to excel in school, then ensuring that there is clear understanding between students and teacher in class should be a priority.
I understand, especially in the public school setting (particularly here in the Philippines), how burdened teachers are with their workload. But I also believe that when they signed up for the profession (not just the job) they knew they would have to deal with children on a personal level and not just as educators.
I see teachers as second parents, as encouragers, as well as instructors. Not only do they teach specific subjects, but part of their duties and responsibilities is to look for potentials, help develop these, inspire students and push them to become good citizens and human beings more than simply excellent learners.
The problem lies in many teachers not having the heart and soul for teaching. They were either forced to take up this course in college, for one of two reasons: 1) parents believed they aren't smart enough so all they will be good for is teaching (the logic of which is totally preposterous!) and 2) because of financial opportunities open for teachers overseas.
They forget that without passion, teaching will only become a burden for a mentor because much is demanded of them, other than making lesson plans, preparing exams, thinking of projects, and grading papers and class participation.
Part of a teacher's duty is to know their students, find out why one is not doing well in class and not just dismiss them as slow learners or idiots, help them get on track, and boost their confidence so they can thrive not only in class but in life.
If their heart is not in being an educator, it will be doubly grueling to help a child become the best version of themselves because instead of going the extra mile to ensure the student learns and enjoys their time in school, they will not go out of their way for their pupils to make them feel they are being given proper attention.
But like I learned while covering budget hearings of the education department in Congress, not only is the entire bureaucracy very, very complex, education itself is, too. But that's an altogether different matter that is not up for discussion.
If it were me, knowing what I do now after so many years of real life experiences, I would settle for students to be good at reading (comprehension, too), writing and arithmetic, because everything else, subject-wise, will follow.
Basic education is what children need. When they get out of the classroom, and school, they should know how to read well, understand what they've read, be reasonably proficient at spelling and grammar, and can write even simple essays.
Math is math. Not all kids have the head for numbers and formulae to enjoy math, but there are now several ways to simplify lessons and break it down for those who don't enjoy this particular subject.
At the same time, students must be taught good work ethics, proper manners and decency, while inculcating in them a strong sense of dignity, integrity and respect.
There was a post that caught my attention about a teacher relating her meeting with a parent in a PTA conference. The mother of her student said she wasn't as interested about her child's academic performance because in time, her daughter would get all that.
What she wanted to know from the teacher was how her kid was as a person... if she was kind, helpful and got along with other students.
It was her child's character that was more important to the parent, because what she displayed in school would be a reflection of how she was brought up and treated at home.
In my opening paragraph, I pointed out how a lot of parents these days were becoming either grade-conscious or achievement-oriented when it came to their children's education.
To a certain extent, it's understandable when their kids are being sent to private schools, where costs can be prohibitive. Still, putting inordinate pressure on their children to excel in their studies is not healthy.
As much as all parents hope their kids end up with the jackpot in the intelligence gene pool so they can do good in school and get the breaks in life, what should be more important is that they develop into respectable, kind human beings.
Because ultimately, character shapes a man more than intelligence.