A libertarian inclined blog for teachers and learners of all ages. Comments, emails and links to other educational stuff welcome.

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Next entry: Mature students
Previous entry: Discovering ancient wisdoms
Sunday December 16 2007

Janice Turner writes about the ever greater importance of parents in education:

And yet what do we expect in an educational system more heavily predicated than ever upon parental involvement? When I was growing up my mother helped me with the odd spelling test. But now we are expected to hear our children read every day, to drill them in tables, to come into school to be briefed in the weird world of modern maths - “number lines” and newfangled multiplication methods - so we can better teach them to our children. Which is fine, although deeply boring, if you have time. But many parents, probably poorer ones, don’t, returning late and tired from second jobs to cramped homes with little study space. And that is years before we get cracking on their GCSE coursework.

At state schools you perpetually feel there is a shortfall: a child is trailing behind, isn’t challenged enough. But it is up to you to identify this and insist something is done. (Or else beg your friends for the name of a private tutor.) I met one mother en route to take issue with a teacher who had described her son as average: “But he can’t be average,” she cried. “I’m not average and neither is his father.” It is this parental proactivity, confidence and above all expectation that led to the greater glory of Tim rich-but-dim.

But fulfilling talent shouldn’t be about having a determined mother who can play the system. ...

Janice Turner then suggests her various answers, which concern what “we” must do to airlift Kevin poor-but-smart away from the influence of his no-good mother and into affluence.  I am sceptical.

But at least Ms Turner emphasises that the state education system actually does less and less with every passing year.  Why else would parent power now make such a huge difference?  If schools were teaching everyone to be as clever as they are capable of being, parental influence would be a side-issue.