If you’ve read my articles, or heard me speak you would know that I often make the assertion that, as a collective body of adults, the school and not the parents are the significant adults in the life of the 21st Century child. Till now this belief was based only on anecdotal observations and common sense.
However, as part of my own schools professional development program, the staff were addressed by Dr Ian Lillico from the Boys Forward Institute.
He spoke of research he conducted with Michael Carr-Gregg with suggested that; on a daily basis a father will spend less than 10 (ten!) seconds engaged in meaningful dialogue with his son. And the mother? Less than 4 minutes. This doesn’t include the time taken giving instructions or managing behaviour.
This begs the question, when do parents sit down with their kids to discuss all things sex, drugs and rock’n’roll? When do they get real sense of“how their kid is going” or offer guidance along the road of teenage life? When do they sit together and just chat?
It also begs the question, if not their parents, who are today’s kids being guided by?
Schools have to acknowledge the fact that their staff have more face-to-face access to teenagers than their parents. This means that schools have a responsibility for so much more than just the academic performance of the students in their charge.
I’m not saying that schools supercede the role of parents. Of course they don’t, but they do need to realise just how important a role they do play in the development of their students’ values, sense of self, behaviours and attitudes.
Schools need to ensure that students are free to learn about themselves, explore their individuality and feel valued in a safe and nurturing environment. With obesity and depression continually on the rise, schools also need to ensure that health and wellbeing is front and centre in all they do. Schools need to ensure every member of staff subscribes to a philosophy that supports this and teacher-training institutions need to ensure that their pre-service teachers are well aware of, and prepared for the role of guiding the next generation into the 21st Century.
There will always be some teachers who believe that this falls outside their job description, and when they entered the profession, perhaps it did to a certain extent. But in 2011, no-one can approach teaching thinking that it is only a case of dispensing knowledge.
Whose job is it anyway? It’s probably yours…
In May, I will be speaking at the Positive Schools Conferences in Perth and Brisbane alongside Michael Carr-Gregg and Steve Biddulph. If you’re attending, please say Hi!
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