home and school: dialogue continued…

This one deserves a special post. Thanks Jayashree, for having taken the time and energy to come up with some very interesting and valid standpoints. I appreciate that.

The original post for which Jayashree posted a rejoinder is here: home and school – a complete partnership.

(this would be part #7 of the ‘frequently avoided questions on education’ series)

> Jayashree Ashok Says:
>
>April 26, 2009 at 11:15 am e
>Thanks for this post and summary. This post in co-
>incidentally similar to the points I’ve been putting down for
>ourselves and our children. It was nice to read a group meeting
>summary with such points.

Our pleasure – the thing is, as mentioned in the post it is our perspective or thought at that time – we made some quick notes before the meeting and in the meeting quite a few other points were raised. Quite a few of them were good, but we did not capture the other points in this note – may be we should have done that too! In this context it is NOT a group meeting summary, As I wrote in that post, if we were to do that now, there would be some additions and modifications, but then I just wanted to present it as a set of thoughts for record etc etc.

>We all talk a lot about life education. What does this really mean?
>Most of the time schools aim at looking at only the material aspects
>of life education. That too in a limited sense. Does life education
>include courage and strength to live life to the fullest? Does it
>include giving to others? Fully participating in our communities? Is
>life education only individual centric?

Yes, yes, YES. It should. But, it need not be only be undertaken in school. I tried to handle some of your ‘dyadic’ questions in this post (Education: A taxonomy towards understanding this beast better) – and later, will try to coherently to present some more stuff.

I am not very comfortable with the dyadic perspective of material vs spiritual ways of looking at things – I am of the opinion that a lot of things in life are either 1) merely two sides of a given coin, for a given value of dyadic extremes or 2) in the great & lovely gray area between those two extremes. In the taxomomy post, I have tried to present my understanding/case. If you have the time, please go thru that post and comment on the same too – I would appreciate that.

>If home and school are indeed places where we expect children to
>learn life skills – then we really need to have more discussions
>around this.

I agree. Your comment/rejoinder is welcome, and as Hegel would rather not admit, with some happy marriage of thesis and antithesis, a reasonable synthesis can result. Dialectic materialism (or spiritualism), here we come!

>Today, I’m not sure many schools – including Namma
>Shaale even look at preparing children how to face challenges –
>internal and external to themselves.

I agree. I think no ‘school’ as in outsourced and externalized ‘education’ – away from realm of parental responsibility will work in splendid isolation. Schools are NO magic silver bullets, especially when there is a cognitive dissonance between what the parents are and what the school does. With my limited knowledge and perspective (read: tunnel vision) I don’t know of any school that is a silver bullet.

Children are like sponges as I am tiringly fond of saying and the primary environment is home, and will continue to be so for many more years – till the time when all the babies (excepting those of diehard & maverick homesteaders) grow up only in bigger and bigger plastic tanks, finally to be released may be for propagation purposes – with all morals, ethics and what not, getting directly programmed into their brain, while they are still in their tanks.

So, whatever the school does, it can only supplement and (in some cases) complement what is done at home – whether it is indifference or indoctrination or general restlessness or hedonism or whatever at home.

I also think that a given kid’s mind is like a palimpsest – layers over layers of experiences and internalizations – and most of these layers are formed with the parental/familial influenes, even though I am aghast at this thought.

So, if I feel that my child is not getting benefitted in school in some realms or in all realms of that beast called ‘education,’ I would look at what I cannot contribute to that outcome that I don’t desire to happen to the child, at home. Does it sound slightly puzzling? I feel that life is self-fulfilling prophecy, in other words.

To reiterate my point(lessness?), home environment is the primary environnment from which children pick up their values, ethics, the giving nature, stewardship; the school can help a lot, but looking at my personal experience of teaching and dealing with puzzled (and puzzling) parents & ‘students’ in random spurts over a couple of decades, I feel that:

1. If the aims, goals, ethics, norms and values of parents and school are congruent – the outcome is good (and the goodness is magnified) for the child – in fact this is ONE greatest service that a given ‘school’ can do to the child.

2. If the above are not congruent in parents and school – the child suffers, but if the parents have good ‘sense’ then that good sense will prevail on the child too.

3. If the above are not congruent, and if the parents have questionable ‘sense’ whether or not the school has reasonable sense, the screwed up nature of the parents gets reflected – in the child.

4. In any case, what a given school could do is to either magnify the basic effect of parents (it could be positive or negative in both parents and school) or smother the effect(in positive or negative ways). I think the ultimate responsibility is ONLY with parents.

The following table summarizes once again the major points of view in terms of ‘Good’ sense & ‘Bad’ sense (this is dyadic once again, but will suffice for the discussion and adds a lil’ bit of spice too!), though categorizing them as points of view A or B should also be okay. Anyway, it is all about the congruence of points of views of the school and the parents – whether it is good or bad, it would depend on perception, I think. (of course, with the caveat of ‘all other things being equal’ and all that)

Case no

Parents’ ‘good’ sense

‘School’s’ ‘good’ sense

Probable outcome on children

Comments

1

yes

yes

Enhanced ‘good’ sense They would mostly make it peacefully and nicely to the world.

2

no

no

Where do I even begin… Realm of the serial killers of the 2020s and 2030s or/and would be scamsters

3

no

yes

The school can try, but ‘apple does not fall far from the tree’ Cognitive dissonance in the child. The home environment being primal, would override the good effect of the school.

4

yes

no

Sad for the child. The school reduces the ‘good’ sense of the parents. Cognitive dissonance in the child; there is something to be said about the perceptions of these parents and how could they commit such an error of judgment…
5

kind of

kind of

Foot soldiers of the middle 2000s. The majority of the population is in this area.
Of course, there are grand exceptions, but then they only prove the rule; also, sufficient allowance should be given to the ‘flaw of the averages’ and all that, while interpreting the above table…

>I also want to point out that not just parents – but teachers are
>also role models…something rarely acknowledged by the teaching
>community.

I agree, but teachers are only representative sample of folks living and working elsewhere and in other fields. Therefore there are good teachers and bad teachers and Non-teachers as well – and this categorization would be applicable to everyother field, including parenting. But, I don’t know whether teachers are in denial about them also being considered as role models – whether positive or negative. I don’t know of a good/varied representative sample size of teachers to come to a decision here. But, I know you have had a very significant experience of interacting with schools and teachers, over many years. Now, assuming that they are in denial by and large, what next?

>It is not sufficient for just parents to take up this
>responsibility.

I agree. But, the teachers in my opinion cannot afford to have (Spouse says, perhaps they should NOT have at all) emotional investment & stakes in a given child – it is deleterious to the student/child in the short and long run. I think this should be with the exclusive domain of the parents.

It is important for children to interact with ‘well meaning, but not too very close‘ kind of capable and warm folks – and I think teachers could be essentially that. This factor helps the child in having a healthy view about the external universe (is anything external at all?) – that is, not negative/cynical at all but encouraging.

>Teachers need to be diligently aware self aware of
>what they are communicating to the children.

I couldn’t agree with you more – but still believe that the home environment continues to be primary and primal – so if the child sees a lot of layered meanings and inconsistencies in the teachers, perhaps the home environment ‘prepares’ them for that world-view. As a friend of my spouse says, children are our best bullshit meters. They know. My child knows how phoney I am, whenever I am being one.

>Our children spend a
>large chunk of the day at school. Children learn – all the time –
>from parents and teachers and peers. The question is really – what
>are they learning?

🙂 You know, I get cynical sometimes, but try to shake myself clear – when I consider whatever the smouldering hell that I learnt – in school, home, ‘professional’ career, entrepreneurship etc etc… At one level, I am much more comfortable & happy with plant life – and may be, just may be, I am learning too.

Life, I celebrate thee!

>Thanks much!

I thimk you should put together the stuff that you have been thinking about (on education, life and what not) and publish your nice points of view. In the mean time, please plan to take over the blog and do some EFT for/on me. I need it.

(This dialogue spawned thought continues in the next post – which would be  art #8 of the ‘frequently avoided questions on education’ series)

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Comments

  • Jayashree Janardhan  On May 7, 2009 at 6:40 am

    Dear Ramjee,
    Thanks a lot for your detailed respones. I have always and even now fully agree that home is the first and the most profound influence. I do however feel that the teachers role is not looked at…both contribute. It is important that whatever work one puts in at home is not undone completely. (While some challenges are very good and give plenty of opportu nities for growth/learning).
    It is interesting that when we talk about teacher responsibility you have mentioned emotional investment and the child seeing layered inconsistancies in the teacher. There is way more to teacher responsibility than this. Why do we think responsibility means being emotional?
    I dont see emotional investment in the sense you have written about. (As I understand it). Any good teaching and learning happens in a calm environment where the teacher is dispassionately available and connected to the children. A teacher needs to be in charge – calmly and clearly. Aware of a child’s issues and available with persistant and clear guidance. I’m not talking about a lovey dovey thing but some basic understanding needs to be there. A balance between work and connections. If a teacher has pre-judged and shut himself off from the child. There can be no teaching learning. without human conenction – a child cannot “download”.
    In any case when I say teacher responsibility – I mean that children learn a lot from watching the teachers life style and mannerisms as well. We communicate in many ways beyond words. I wish more of us parents and teachers would be aware of this.
    Perhaps like you say I need to write more about both parent and teacher responsibility. Both parents and teachers need to become the change they want to see in their children. It is a partnership. I dont think one can simply dismiss teacher responsibility and make it all parent either.

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