"An amazing attitude in the classroom" - Things you don't expect after Parents' Evening

I had parents evening this week for my two little cherubs and my daughter made me realise how much things have changed over the years. Naturally, there was a post-match dissection of each consultation leading to the utterance of “She has an amazing attitude in the classroom”. The notable point for me was that this had nothing to do with the assessments made of one my little darlings, but was my eight year old daughter remarking on the performance of her brother’s teacher. 

This reminded me of a cartoon I had been sent a few weeks ago that provides social commentary on how thirty years ago a child failing to progress would be chastised by both parents and teacher for not working hard enough, and yet these days it seems more common that when children don’t meet their potential, both parents and child lay the blame clearly at the teacher’s door. 

This is a tricky one, because we live in an age where “accountability” has grown and teachers are increasingly held to account for the progress and achievement of each child in the class. At the same time, educators seem to be being forced to undertake some of the aspects of parenting that may be lacking. 

Accountability seems to be a one way street when this week it has even been suggested that schools should be teaching children how to brush their teeth. This follows other such aspects of parenting picked up by schools where children are not entirely toilet trained or able to use a knife and fork for their school dinners when they arrive in their reception class.

However this shift is also accompanied by a culture that has become almost unfailingly positive. If Facebook is to be believed, all the children in my kids’ classes are little angels who are “a joy to teach”. I suspect however, that a few may be “eager to contribute to class discussions”, or should that read “talks too much”? 

It is hard: when parents are told about their children in such positive tones, is it a surprise that any transgression must be because of the teacher? It is an unfortunate fact that, in common with every profession, there are teachers that don’t make the grade – against the professional standards as opposed to my daughter’s well-honed critique. 

I wish I had the answer as to how to balance the variable quality of parenting, with the variable quality of teaching because therein lies the key to children developing academically and socially.

Fortunately, the consultations with my two’s teachers stopped at their performance rather than mine over the last term, but I do wonder how I would have fared had I been the one reported on. In the office, I can manage the swan-like calm capability whatever school queries or duty calls come my way; yet co-ordinating whose reading books have been read, spellings learnt and homework done is an entirely different matter. I can't help but think my school report would be reading “finds it difficult to translate learning theory into practice” now that “could try harder” is out of fashion.

This article was originally posted on the SPS website.  Read more SPS news and updates at https://the-sps.co.uk/news.

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