Parents and teachers should be partners in improving student behaviour.

The OECD’s report Education at a Glance highlights what Australian teachers have been arguing, that Australian teachers have to work longer hours and more weeks a year than the average in developed nations and that experienced teachers here are paid significantly less than the average.

This follows on yesterday’s story that a new guide, Parent-Teacher Partnerships, has been produced by the Australian Scholarships Group and the National Excellence in Teaching Awards organisation. In it teachers argued that successful education of children needed the active participation and modelling of core values by parents if teachers were to have any hope of reinforcing and building on them at school.

There appears to be some surprise by parents that teachers should “complain about teaching manners.”  I have been giving some thought myself, as both a teacher and a parent, at the problem of declining standards in behaviour throughout society.

Yes, children have always needed reminding of their responsibilities and behaviour, some children have shown signs of neglect in personal and educational needs but the real change has been in the numbers of children facing these problems.  Even in affluent areas the issue of respect and behaviour is present.

Parents are already stressed by financial pressures that require longer working hours by both parents so it is understandable that some decline may happen but it needn’t be so.  Many migrant parents today and in the past have had to work under financial pressures and often with little extended family support and yet managed to embed discipline and love of learning and respect in spite of language barriers that they faced.

The key was that discipline and respect were an expectation not an option in daily living.

The real issue is that respect and responsibility  learned at home and modelled and reinforced in the classroom is the best way to educate our young people to be respectful and responsible adults.

I don’t believe that teachers are looking for lessening their workload in this regard or shirking their responsibilities, rather they are calling for an acknowledgment that this area is impacting on other areas of children’s education and that parents must act.

In my own experience as a teacher it is not rare to find children being rushed out in the morning without breakfast. Upon asking why one child who had learning difficulties never ate  breakfast, she told me that each of her five siblings had to help dress each other and tidy up before leaving so there was no time to eat.  Another child was consistently late each day.  In both these instances the children themselves found strategies to self monitor to ensure change.  The solution had to become a child centered one because parents would not admit failure.

These are just two instances but reflect the time needed by teachers out of their programs to mediate and find strategies to better their students experiences.  Why should children face embarrassment because of poor personal hygiene or unwashed clothing or poorly managed work or health issues.  Teachers are often blamed these days for a variety of failings and it is time for parents to lower their defensiveness and work with teachers to remedy these problems.

As a parent I fully understand the stresses of modern day living yet I have taken it to be  my responsibility as a parent,  to nurture, discipline and teach respect for self and others in my own children.  I don’t say it is easy or that there will be no problems, but one has to at least persevere.  Small changes can be built upon and make a real lasting difference.

If children’s experience in the home is one of  be  indulged, seldom corrected and defended when teachers then discipline bad behaviour what messages are being sent not only to the child involved but to others in the class as well.

Teachers are expected to implement  programs on road safety, personal health, obesity, safe foods, civic pride, values, drugs and alcohol, multiculturalism, child protection, life skills, and anti-bullying on top of their core teaching of curriculum and while taking on increasing responsibility for mandated assessments and legal requirements.

If they have to spend increasing time on behaviour management then they are right to call for society at large to take up the duty of care required of child raising.  The OECD report reflects on the long hours and shrinking pay that teachers are expected to shoulder in this country.  As a society it is time to think about what we are working together to achieve.

It is only by working together that the improvements in child education will be achieved.


This jellyfish photo was taken just offshore of McMurdo Station, Ross Island.

"Phot of jellyfish in Antarctic waters."

Photograph by: Steve Clabuesch, National Science Foundation. Date Taken: December 2, 2005.

~ by abstraktbiblos on Wednesday, 10 September, 2008.

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