Our society has extremely high expectations of our educators. We expect them to teach our children the academic skills necessary to graduate from high school and attend college. However, our expectations don’t stop there. We also expect them to teach our children social skills, sexual education, finance management, how to resist drug and alcohol, how to deal with bullying, and how to treat everyone equally. That is a lot of pressure for teachers who have a limited amount of time and resources for each student, not to mention the meager pay.
At some point, parents need to step up and take responsibility for teaching our children right from wrong and how to get along in this world. Teachers can spend their whole days teaching life skills to students, but if the students go home and those teachings aren’t reinforced, then the lessons are wasted. Children need to learn from watching their parents manage their finances responsibly, manage their drug and alcohol use, and treat others with the kindness and respect they deserve.
Racial bias especially is a concept that children learn at home. If a child learns at school that the color of a person’s skin doesn’t matter, but they go home and hear their parents make racial slurs or prejudice comments, they become confused and will likely follow the behavior modeled by their parents. The work of the teacher becomes even harder when kids go home and see opposite behaviors modeled.
Teachers can implement lessons such as the brown eyes vs. green eyes experiment (Frontline. 1985) where children have experiences which teach them first-hand how it feels to be discriminated against. But the children need to also be learning at home that making people feel bad is wrong in order for those lessons to stick with them.
Education of our children cannot just be the job of the schools. Parents must step up and take responsibility for educating our children on how to navigate in this world. It is our job to teach the life skills, and have them reinforced at school, not the other way around. Teachers need to be able to focus on teaching academics, not how to deal with bullies or balance a checkbook.
Frontline. (1985). A Class Divided. Retrieved online at: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/divided/