The Conflicting Roles: Parent, Child and School
Updated: May 5, 2019
One of the critical mission items at Eugene Christian School is the partnership between home (child and parents) and school (teachers, administration). Most research will show you that increased engagement and relationships (e.g. communication, understanding, goal setting and review) between these groups = higher academic achievement and success.
This is especially true in a Christian school setting, where academic achievement is just one element of the mission; we're also in the business of shaping souls towards Christ and for students, over a period of time, to act and serve like the most influential person in human history. Without a positive relationship between home and school, it is challenging to monitor the Christian moral compass and worldview. Beliefs and actions matter.
What is difficult in the parent, student and school relationship is both an "old truth" with contemporary cultural nuances. The difficulty, in my view, is who is defining reality and acting upon those observations.
To interject my own bias, I grew up with supportive parents who expected me to perform and achieve. We weren't loaded with resources by any means, but working hard and being responsible for your success were bedrock values. When I was 9 years old and wanted a treat from the local convenience store, I filled up a 12 pack of pop cans and walked to get that Snickers bar. When I was 13, I started working 10-15 hours a week officiating local youth sports games. During my senior year of high school, I moved out of my childhood home and learned about working, going to school and paying $260 of monthly rent to my brother. I can still remember getting those $20 bills out of the ATM.
Bottom line: I am thankful that my parents taught me that nothing comes free and if you want something, work for it.
This lesson also translated to the academic side of things. I wanted to achieve in school. I felt like anything less than an "A" was embarrassing. I wanted to learn and I did not want to appear lazy or disappoint anyone. My parents stopped coming to parent-teacher conferences when I was in 8th grade. Looking back, I think I understand why - it was my education and they didn't need to babysit me anymore.
My parents never asked me the following questions:
1. Do you like your teacher?
2. Do you like the curriculum?
3. Do you like how this class operates or that one?
4. Did that student bother you again today?
5. Are you enjoying your time at school?
My parents did ask me how I was doing and if I had successfully completed everything for the day. There was always dinner at home and time to play outside.
I cannot recall examples of me complaining to my parents about a teacher, class, coach or some other issue outside the normal social problems that kids face. To be honest, I don't think I knew how to do that because these questions weren't even a part of my worldview. Granted, I had teachers who impacted my life in substantial ways and some that probably should've never been in education. I am sure it is the same for you.
My parents just never knew about the "poor" educational experiences I had. How would they know or find out?
It must be said that Christian schools should be looking to listen, research, innovate and improve their operational practices as God has called us to be excellent in everything we do. In the end, while I most certainly see the benefits of additional monitoring -- our culture demands value and accountability in the school experience -- I know a child's drive, initiative and ownership are values that go far beyond the "issues" that our families and schools face on a daily basis.
So, back to the conflict in this relationship. Who owns reality? And what, exactly, are we trying to teach our children?