If you thank back to your younger days, chances are you think about the teachers you adored. Isn’t it odd how we can forget so many parts of our lives, but the teachers–both good and bad– somehow marked us forever. They inspired us or discouraged us. They taught us–or they gave up on us. And we remember.
It may be an evolution that is unstoppable, but it seems to us that our education system is being loaded more and more with the task of parenting. The bad news is: kids are not showing up at school expecting it. The bad news is: many parents have abandoned the basic role of parenting. It’s hard to find fault with parents, struggling to make both ends meet, with two parents in a household working outside of the home and sometimes: working at different hours. The single-parent households face similar financial and time struggles. They are trying to make ends meet on one income and face exhaustion almost daily.
Add to this that for a lot of kids, screen time is the ultimate goal while parents themselves spend a lot of time on cellphones and perhaps we are slipping into becoming an unsustainable culture.
Or maybe we are already there. Perhaps our education system is at risk of becoming a lifestyle education system. Kindness awards, teaching empathy, manners, consequences, the value of money, the importance of good nutrition, the value of exercise, health education–the list goes on. Have we always loaded so much responsibility on our school system?
Perhaps it was always there to some extent, but we are not heeding the warning signals of teachers needing leave and choosing early retirement. Overall, we are not heeding the warnings of careers not chosen.
We are short of teaching staff but have been hearing for years that we are short of trades people and now, the hospitality and food industry cannot find enough workers.
It feels like this relates to the kind of people we are–and the kind of people we are collectively raising.
Whether the education system deserves kudos for jumping in to fill a need, or whether it is putting extra effort into teaching young people about values as a necessity doesn’t matter. But we can only imagine how hard it it to spend a big percentage of the school day teaching those who need it how to delay rewards, stay focused, be kind to others, and to know when to go the extra mile. How hard is it for teachers to ask kids to put away devices when necessary? How hard is it to teach in a world where parents may think they know best? It is likely just as hard as being a medical professional in a world where we are all experts, thanks to online information that we are sure is 100% accurate.
It’s time for a reset. Few us of are experts on anything. We can beef up our manners with service people, those in the hospitality industry, those who take care of our kids, customer service staff and health professionals. Young people are learning from us.
The only behaviour we can change is our own.