Recently we discovered that something wasn’t quite right when it came to parents ‘helping’ with children’s homework. Recently the news got out of that many parents are actually just completing the homework for them.
It does serve as a bit of an eye-opener for those who thought that kids sat down and did their homework, only needing a little help. So much for the notion that everything was getting ‘dumbed-down’ at school.
Suddenly we begin to not only question if kids are getting their homework done but we also have to wonder if the support systems in place to help kids is actually working. We’re always quick to criticise teachers and staff about different things, from exam results to support for Special Educational Needs.
However, with the new findings from the report I think we ought to hold fire on the teachers and schools whilst we consider the notion that some parents are doing some of the damage. I mean, if little Johnny goes into school with a piece of homework he did himself and gets a less-than-average mark, hopefully the teachers are going to see this and be able to point him in the right direction.
However, if Johnny doesn’t have a clue how to do the work and his parents do it for him… Well, he’ll go into class and get a top mark. What exactly did that achieve? When it comes to exam time and he gets the bad mark (let’s face it, someone’s going to notice the parent present in the room) then all of a sudden he’s stuck.
I also bet the first to criticise the teachers would be the parents who did Johnny’s homework. Well, they shouldn’t have to do it for him if he got the right support, right? It’s a vicious circle, because you wonder where it all started.
Suddenly, this simple idea over parents doing homework has a few more wider implications than we first thought. There’s more pressure on teachers, parents and pupils to get the job done, all of a sudden.
I guess we can go one stage further and think about the root of the problem – did Johnny go to the right person for help?
So, parents or teachers?
Mum/Dad or your teacher?
The argument could be made that perhaps parents are the right people to see first after all. I mean, they’ve known the child longer than the teacher ever could so it’s worth noting that they’ll probably know their habits and what they are capable of. You’ll be able sit down and get through those questions, each with a rational step or two and some motivation.
Also, when you think that many teachers don’t hold a degree in the subject they’re teaching (only half of maths teachers hold a maths degree, according to the Department for Education) so in some cases I would imagine there are parents who are more ‘qualified’ to help with a certain subject than the teacher. If one of your parents has, say, a Master of Business Administration (MBA) to their name, I’ll be hard-pushed to find someone more qualified to help me with my management work than if I had a Professor or Doctor in my school.
On the other hand, we’re seeing the problem of parents doing the work for kids, which defeats the objects.
Furthermore, I’ve always known school reports to be a little on the brief side at times – parents might not be so clued-up on where a child needs the most support. Also, in some cases the parents might not be completely sure on what to do – indeed, there have been the odd change.
I guess then this is the arena for teachers to take over and provide the first place for help. After all, I can remember seeing my maths teacher every day, for example. There are some teachers out there who understand individual needs and troubles and can help with them. Some teachers might be more sympathetic than parents, though I’m not really sure. Is there a certain expectation from parents for their kids? Could be – perhaps this is something that teachers understand better so know how to help in different ways.
Of course, you have to balance that out by thinking of the large groups that kids are in. Imagine if every teacher had every pupil of theirs coming to visit them in their office for help every day? It would become almost impossible to manage and very difficult for the teacher, not to mention frustrating for the pupil.
There could also be an issue if the teacher feels like they are going over something the student should have learnt previously – are they going to unfairly judge them for needing help? I think even if they were asking for help on a difficult thing then there is a danger that the teacher might look upon them a little differently.
Talking to a teacher or parent about difficulties in academic life is a strange one because they are so evenly-matched in my view. Personally, I was a bit stupid and didn’t really see either for help. Of course, that didn’t work out so well for me.
So what do I suggest? Well, I think your parents are a good place to start as long as they don’t start taking over. Perhaps take your ideas and your parents ideas to the teacher one lunchtime if you still haven’t worked it out. I think a teacher will then appreciate the effort you’ve made.
Have a go first, is basically my first suggestion. I think that works better.
Add a comment if you’ve had that decision to make yourself – we’d love to know how it worked out for you.
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