It is interesting reading the debate about what children are taught in schools.
Should parents dictate what their kids are taught?
Should schools be the ones who decide what is taught?
Drawing the either/or here is a great mistake in my opinion.
Parents are vital in a child's education, and they should definitely be involved in the process of their child's learning. I have been personally frustrated with the schooling of my children because they oftentimes bring home work, and I have difficulty helping them. Not because I am unintelligent, but because there are no text books and no worksheets showing the methodology. My kids aren't necessarily the greatest at taking notes, so I struggle to find out how a problem should be worked. During the time schools went virtual during the early stages of the pandemic, I was able to follow along with the methodologies being taught, and then pass them onto my kids. Since they have returned to in-person class, I am now unable to follow along. Yes. Technology is great. Yes. Saving space on textbooks is helpful, but at what cost. We who are parents are no longer able to read along with our kids. Engage with textbooks like we used to, and help teachers with the methodologies being taught. That is a major downside, and I think also a contributor to the problem between parents and schools.
Because, when parents cannot see what is being taught, and sometimes, are stonewalled when they ask what is being taught, suspicion gets raised. Secrecy is not a good thing in education. Our brains love to fill in the gaps with information that may or may not be accurate. We will literally make stuff up to make things make sense, and if we are not being told what is being taught--we conjure up all sorts of reasons why. And a lot of times, those reasons are negative. Having some sort of open access to what kids are taught might make all the difference in the world with some of this issue.
But so will a realization that neither parents nor schools themselves are the sole arbiters of what children should be taught. There is a mutual engagement that needs to take place in this arena, particularly in the society we find ourselves navigating. Too often, there are forces looking to indoctrinate rather than inform. There are too many forces trying to tell kids what to think instead of giving them the tools to search out data and then interpret that data. There are too many forces trying to limit which facts are taught in schools in favor of the facts which are particular to their own narratives.
This is why parents and schools must work together. Parents and schools must fill in the blanks and ensure that as many facts as possible are given whatever subject matter is taught. And perhaps we desperately need to agree upon what the overall goal of an education is. What are we trying to ensure when we teach children. Are we giving them life skills to help them survive in the business world? Are we strictly trying to prepare them for college? Are we working towards giving them the basic tools necessary to be a good citizen in the U.S.? Is it a bit of all of it?
I know that as a parent, I would like my children to walk out of high school with the basic skills necessary to enter into the workforce as well as an understanding of what our country is and what it means to be a citizen of the U.S. I think this means they should be able to read, write, and have some mathematical comprehension as well as have a basic understanding of U.S. history and civics. If they have the ability to research, gather data, and draw conclusions based on that data in a critical fashion--even better. I feel rather fortunate to live in a community where these values are greatly shared by the school system, but I know that is not the case everywhere. The news stories bear this out.
But instead of shouting it out at school board meetings, perhaps we need to realize just how collaborative an effort education is.