Educating kids. Who’s responsible?

We all remember school, don’t we. That place where you expect teachers to teach you about the world. Well, did you ever have a bad teacher?  In the conventional teacher-led education, one might get a good or not-so-good teacher, just as one might be born to rich or poor parents. Putting the pressure purely on teachers to educate turns what is meant to be a equitable and fair ‘education-for-all’ into a lottery of lucky winners and unfortunate losers who are timetabled with less effective educators.

Education should not be a job for parents

Similarly, it’s in this context that educators advising parents about their role in educating their child ignores life’s “lottery of upbringing” and assumes all parents have the time, skills, and awareness to act on the usual teacher’s advice. So I thought I’d take a different approach.

3 points for parents about education today

  1. School success is not a teacher’s responsibility, or yours.
    To be fair to all children and negate life’s lotteries of school timetabling and home life, your child’s school must become child-centred and flexible enough to allow and support every student to find confidence in their own particular talents and paths to achieving goals, and in doing so, develop as future-ready citizens. The 21st century school environment needs to focus on self-awareness (confidence in knowing who and what you are) and growth-mindset (I will always learn what I need when I need it), if their current students are to survive the future’s career-free professional life.
  2. How you learn is more important than what you learn
    The pace of world change is increasing and over the next 15 years, we will challenge most known conventions about work and opportunity. Employees and project managers across the world rely less and less on test scores and qualifications for choosing their people. The world wants people who can adapt to new situations and this is not evident in exam results.  The key is to keep young people challenged and having to learn and adapt collaboratively with anyone around them. In this less certain world, schools in multiple countries are slowly shifting from the expectation that the school day will be defined by teachers who decide what needs to be learnt and how everyone will learn it.
  3. Everything is Awesome! … well almost everything.

Schools and parents can now celebrate any talent or interest a child has. If a love for gaming can make hundreds of millionaires, then almost any passion is ok and the traditional idea that one subject at school or hobby at home is more or less important than another is a dangerous assumption. The key is to encourage and push any interest on the grounds that it might become significant if one connects with like minded people and become productive with it.
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Schools are the answer

As individual parents, we should not pressure ourselves in such limited available time to support school education. But as communities we need to encourage our children’s schools to be innovative and use world examples to highlight a need for change. We need learning environments that are less structured for children but ones that demand more from the students to work with their peers and their teachers to plan, organise, measure and report on goals and achievement. Only this way will our children be ready for a world so different from the one we remember leaving school for.


Author: Richard Wells
Teaches grade 6 to 12
Deputy Principal in a New Zealand High School
Top 40 in edublog awards 2013
Top 12 Blogger – The Global Search for Education
Known for Educational Infographics (see Posters)
and an International keynote speaker.
Twitter :  @EduWells

This post is written as part of  The Global Search for Education: Our Top 12 Global Teacher Blogs: A series of questions that Cathy Rubin is asking several education bloggers. I’ll be sharing the link to her post that collects all of the responses. I’m excited to be part of this group of edu-bloggers.