Social and Cultural Foundations of American Education/Relationships/Mutual Responsibilities
What are the mutual responsibilities of teachers, parents, and the community for effective schools? Education in America is always a popular topic of conversation and often receives much criticism. There is much debate over whether or not our education system is sufficient enough for our children’s futures. In recent years, education has become a hot button topic due to the research showing the United States slowly moving lower in ranks on the list of well educated countries. With this information, the massive population explosion, and an unstable economy, it is imperative that we as a country continue pushing for the best education possible. That is what our children deserve and must possess in order to succeed later in their lives. There is a triad of entities whose responsibilities are essential to the effectiveness or failure the education system. It is the mutual efforts and interactions between the schools, the parents, and the community, that makes an educational system successful.
The Teacher's Responsibility
The teacher’s role in education is, simply put, to teach. However, it is far from simple. In essence, the teacher is like a gardener. Planting the seeds can perhaps be a metaphor for new students with new possibilities, perhaps kindergartners. The seeds need water, sun, and fertilizer to grow. This may also be stated as the curriculum, the self-confidence, and positive reinforcements that a student will need to develop the pertinent fundamental education and study skills to succeed later in life. However, a student should not be receiving this attention solely from his or her teacher. Parents need also be actively involved with their children’s lives in order to make the educational experience a positive and lasting one. After the implementation of the NCLB (No Child Left Behind Act), the accountability that schools experience is greater than before. The schools are responsible for making sure that the teaching staff is one of reputable stature, and that they possess the wisdom and competence needed to achieve the higher standards of education we now have implemented across the country. Schools must also be as up to date with technology as possible. School administrators must also ensure that the curriculum is current and passive enough to better assist students who will compete in the global economy. Superior communication skills between the parent(s) and the teacher, as well as encouragement of parental involvement, are crucial elements that factor into a student’s academic success. Duality of parental involvement is definitely noteworthy, as well as ways to improve upon it. In an Australian study, two hypotheses were tested and confirmed: (a) that the level of mother involvement was higher than that of the fathers, and (b) that the fathers are primarily involved in gender stereotypical activities (Silberberg 2006). The results of a hypothesis indicated that the involvement of women is four times greater that that of the men. The reasoning for this could be argued that the men, for the most part, work during the same hours of school. However, the involvement that the fathers do participate in is more gender oriented (sporting events and security) than academic in nature. There are some ways in which to further encourage the fathers to participate. Perhaps father/daughter or father/son outing, family barbecues, or even celebrating Father’s Day would be acceptable possibilities to further increase father involvement in the schools.
The Parents' Responsibility
Though it is a combination of parental, school and community influences that help to insure educational excellence in our youth, it is mainly the parental responsibility to prepare the child for the social atmosphere in school. Children need to learn how to speak and listen in order to be successful in a school environment. It has been shown that children who do not hear much talk and who are not encouraged to speak have difficulties with reading, and children who have not learned to listen carefully often have issues following directions and paying attention in class (Johnson 2006). With this information, it makes parental involvement all that more important in the early learning process. When fathers are actively involved in school activities, children have a better chance to succeed in school (Wherry 2006). Further, the successfulness of a student is directly proportionate to the forcefulness and involvement of the parent(s). Unfortunately, many students have developed negative attitudes regarding education that are either fostered or ignored by their parents (Galloway 2006). Often times, these parents believe not only that the teacher’s job is to teach the children, but also instill in them morals, manners, kindness, and compassion. Sadly, the schools end up in charge of disciplining these children, as well as modeling proper societal behaviors (Galloway 2006). The only way to change this mentality is to break the cycle of negativity toward schools through making assistance programs available, as well as programs for intervention/prevention. Through much statistical research and evaluation, studies have showed that parents who are actively involved with their child and their education, have a higher success rate inside and outside of the class room. The relationship between parental involvement and success with the student is a steadily increasing number. Since the 1980’s there has been an increasing awareness and concern in, not only quality student education, but the potential affect that a parent has on their child’s education. Education starts at home. From the day that a child is born, their parents are responsible for building the framework of a good citizen. Teachers are here to teach and mentor the children, but “the research also shows that the earlier in a child's educational process parent involvement begins, the more powerful the effects will be.” (Cotton 2001) Parents have the responsibility to raise a child, and included in that responsibility is the teaching of good values and morals to children so that they can be successful in life. In this day and time, it is so easy for parents to become disconnected with their child, their school, and their community. There are many reasons why we should develop partnerships together such as, it strengthens our community, it strengthens our families, and it can be fun! It teaches our children a sense of responsibility, job skills, and tolerance. We can become involved by picking up garbage at the park, work at a community food bank or offer our help at a local animal shelter. By developing good partnerships within our families and communities will provide a steady foundation for our children to be successful.
The Community's Responsibility
Finally, there are the roles in which the community is involved. There are many reasons to develop partnerships between school and community such as, improving school programs, provide family services and support, increase parents' skills and leadership, connect families with others in the school and community and help teachers with their work. The main reason would be to create these partnerships to help all students succeed in school and later in life. When we all work together, a caring community forms around the child and the child can begin to succeed. As a whole, the community is ultimately relying on the culmination of the schools, the parents, and itself to aid in producing future respectable members of their society. Support through the community comes in several different forms and fashions. Libraries, community centers, and churches each contribute in their own special ways. For instance, a library offers unlimited knowledge, with unlimited assistance, and endless empowerment for a student. Anything you ever wanted to know, you could most likely find there. Community centers often offer activities for parents to do with their children, for example, swimming lessons or swimming pool access. Often times there are mother/son and father/daughter one on one type themes to reinforce the parental involvement. Churches serve as a more spiritual positive reinforcement for the students as well as the family. Each of these areas of the community in the end will help to contribute to the education of the whole child including the values for kindness, compassion, cooperation, responsibility, self-esteem, and dignity (Wilson 1998).
Education is not a one-sided, cut and dry concept. It takes the combined continued efforts between the schools, the parents and the community to keep the children on the right path in life. Unfortunately this information is either not stressed as frequently as it may need to be with the parents and communities, or it is ignored all together. There is much truth to the old saying, “It takes a village to raise a child.” That it does.
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- Cotton, Kathleen and Karen Reed Wikelund (2001). "Parent Involvement in Education" http://www.nwrel.org/scpd/sirs/3/cu6.html
- Epstein, Joyce L. (1995). School/Family/Community Partnerships: Caring for the Children We Share [Electronic Version]. Phi Delta Kappan, Vol. 75. Retrieved April 25, 2007 from http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&se=gglsc&d=5000295700
- Galloway, Melinda (2006). The Delicate Cycle. Educational Horizons,84, no4, pgs 257-260. Retrieved September 16, 2006 from the Wilson Web Database.
- Homeier, Barbara P. (2004). Community Service - A Family's Guide to Getting Involved [Electronic Version]. Retrieved April 25, 2007 from http://www.kidshealth.org/parent/positive/family/volunteer.html
- Johnson, Greg (2006). Parental Involvement is Key to Success[Electronic Version]. The Philadelphia Tribune, Vol. 122, Iss 48;pg.11, 1 pgs. Retrieved September 16, 2006, from http://proquest.umi.com/pqdweb?did=1128039221&sid=4&Fmt=3&clientld=5232&RQT=309&VName=PQD
- Silberberg, Richard Fletcher Simone (2006). Involvement of Fathers in Primary School Activities. Australian Journal of Education, 50 no1, pgs 29-39.
- Wherry, John H.(2006). Don't Forget!Principal(Reston, VA),86 no 1 6 S/O 2006. Retrieved September 16, 2006 , from Wilson Web Database.