Jody Lindbeck’s Mum’s the Word: Don’t expect teachers to fill role of families

All too often we hear about how Australian students are failing when compared to their international peers.

Periodically someone will conduct a study and solemnly announce that students in a random former Eastern Bloc Nation where Trabi cars are still driven are doing better than young Australians.

Coming up with an easy answer as to why this occurs is never straight-forward, but surely one question we need to consider is the curriculum taught in our schools.

What is it we expect our schools to teach?

Do we want a 21st Century take on the three Rs and a strict academic program, or are we looking at schools to all become some kind of solution for righting social ills as well?

According to a study conducted for the ASG company, parents want schools to start adding lessons about basic social and life skills to their curriculum.

The survey of more than 1800  parents reportedly want schools to start adding lessons about basic social and life skills to their curriculum, with more than two thirds believe schools should do more to teach children social skills, with half saying teachers should be giving lessons on how to behave in public.

Now, to be fair to the parents who responded to this survey, they reportedly didn’t want schools to take over on the lessons in social mores, but instead were looking for back-up to what was being taught at home.

But, the bottom line is that every single time we ask schools to add something to the curriculum, there is less room for the existing material.

We cannot keep doing this. We cannot, as a society, expect schools to pick up an increasingly heavy workload and then assume it won’t effect educational outcomes.

Schools exist to educate, inspire and challenge young people, but are we now asking them to take over the roles traditionally played by family, friends, neighbours and the wider community?

There is nothing wrong with schools enforcing policies and standards which reflect society’s expectations. But we cannot ask teachers to become substitute parents.

What’s the saying about it takes a village to raise a child?

Sure, as parents and carers we can look to teachers to reinforce the basics, but not at the expense of formal learning.

Morality cannot replace mathematics in the classroom.

Traditionally, schools have been places to inspire and challenge our children.

Australia, as a nation, has long punched above its weight on the world stage in scientific research and achievement.

If we want future generations of our children to be able to continue this, then we need to give them the best start.

We want schools to teach students to think critically, to ask questions and to challenge convention thinking as they find their place in the world.

We hear a lot about teachings standards and making sure schools get the best staff.

If we want to attract the best teachers, let’s make schools places they want to be.

Let’s unstuff the curriculum, pass the teaching of social basics back to families and let teachers do what they do best: Inspire children to think and learn.

We talk a lot about giving children the best, so how about we give them the best possible learning environment and watch them bloom?

Jody Lindbeck

jody.lindbeck@fairfaxmedia.com.au