Sunday, March 24, 2013

Obligations in Education

"It is our moral obligation to give every child the best education possible". These wise words were once stated by Desmond Tutu, a retired Anglican bishop, South African social rights activist, and a Nobel Peace Prize winner. Although Tutu was referring to South Africa, I believe the quote is relevant all around the globe. In this statement, who is Tutu directing? Who are the people responsible for giving children the best education possible and how is that accomplished? 

Everyone is responsible for allowing every child to receive an outstanding education; everyone including students, parents, families, teachers, and community members. The list could go on and on. Every single person working together can provide children with a solid education. 

A student's responsibility in education is to simply be a student. Getting an education is considered to be their "job". Students should behave like employees by arriving on time, not playing hooky, doing their work to the best of their ability, etc. A student shall desire to learn more, complete their work with excitement, listen to their teachers, and behave. This is an ideal student; today's classrooms would be extremely lucky to have all students just like these. What could aide in allowing more student's to behave like this? 

Parents and family members are a major influence on how children act as students. Parents have the child from day one and the child may not see formal education until five years of age. I believe during these vital five years it is the responsibility of parents and families to educate these young minds. Children change very quickly during these years and it is imperative that their minds are developing as well. This does not mean every parent should send their child to a prestigious preschool costing thousands of dollars a month. It simply means to expose your child to experiences which will allow them to learn: read to them, take them to a zoo, park, or museum, give them puzzles or educational games, etc. All of these activities are wonderful tools to help a young mind develop, but the icing on the cake is when a parent participates in the education. Children are easily excited and being an excited parent during these experiences will make it that much greater for the child. Hopefully this excitement carries over to a child's formal education. 

It is not only important for a parent to be involved in a child's early education, but the importance remains throughout their educational career. The idea that you care and are concerned about your child's education speaks volumes to them. A parent should keep their enthusiasm up even when the children becomes annoyed or angry. Sometimes all children need is for someone to care. 

Some of these same aspects of parenting are placed on the teacher's shoulders as well. A teacher is expected to teach their students; that is, after all their title. But how do they teach in a way that facilitates an environment which allows a student to act as an "ideal student"? A teacher must be excited about every single lesson; this excitement will spread like wildfire in a classroom even if some students were originally disinterested in the lesson. They also should to cater to the creative minds of students. When a student asks a question that the teacher is unsure of, the teacher should take the time to look it up and provide the student with a solid answer. A teacher (school district) must try to provide experiential learning; this type of education really sticks with students. Lastly, it is essential for a teacher to care for his or her students. If the child is having a bad day the teacher should take time to have a conversation with the child. Caring and knowing students may not only positively influence behavior in the classroom but education as well. 

Caring in the community also plays a factor in education. The community should stand for a proper education of the children in their neighborhoods. They should stay involved by talking to teachers, parents and students and by attending school board meetings. They should always stick up for the children's  right to an appropriate education. It has been discussed in class that many neighborhoods have lost their sense of community. When there are children out late up to no good, members of the community should step up and make sure they return home. If a neighbor knows that a student has a complicated family life and is not doing well in school, they should step up and provide the child with a shoulder to lean on; they should help the child with not only his or her education but also with the child's life. Sometimes just talking to a student makes a world of difference. 

In summary, I believe the major word here is care. Caring about the community, the parents, the teachers and most importantly the students can make the education system work more efficiently in a school district. When people care about you, your self-esteem and attitude become positively skewed. A positive attitude in the world of education can change everything for the better. 

My question is how do we encourage students, teachers, parents, and communities to care about education and all that it entails?

The following is an article written by a mother and developmental psychologist. She emphasizes how caring is especially important during the transitional middle school period. Although she only touches on middle school, I believe her overarching idea of caring in schools is important and relevant to this blog entry. 

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