I had Year 7 Parent-Teacher night tonight. It’s early in the year; starting this year we have two Year 7 PT nights, which I fully support. Year 7 parents just want to know their child is settling in well and being generally happy and confident. Term 3 is too late for all that, and too late to address any problems that arise.
Anyway, several parents said their daughter really enjoys my class. I partially deflected the flattery, saying it’s because high school has dedicated Maths teachers as opposed to the generalists of primary school who love kids but don’t necessarily love mathematics. But in each case, I said my main aim with all students, but particularly Year 7, is for them to enjoy themselves in class. My motto, I cheekily declared, is “Education follows enjoyment”. I only made up the motto this evening, but there you go. Of course, I was being a little corny and showy, but the parents sincerely agreed, and usually developed the conversation along those lines.
All this would be a forgotten detail of the cut and thrust of Parent-Teacher nights, except that I reflected later how nice it is not to have parents cutting straight to the chase with the stereotypical “what does she need to do to improve her results” line of questioning. There are many stories in the Sydney media about educational issues at the moment, and you’d often be led to believe that elite private schools are full of parents thinking their money can be turned more or less directly into good results. That’s rubbish. A few are like that, and their attitude gets all the attention when it comes time for newspapers to compile their latest “Sydney’s best schools” lists. But the great majority just want their kids to be happy, to mature, to challenge themselves and be challenged, and to become a productive and contented adult. Of course they want their kids to get the best result possible, but they don’t express entitlement. And when I explicitly express my attitude that education is much broader than an exam mark, they agree wholeheartedly.
As Plato (I think) said: “There is no Roman road to Geometry”. (In modern terms: there is no shortcut to a deep education.)
And as many people have observed: when you realise how inaccurate or shallow the newspaper coverage is of an issue you are expert in, you question their coverage of other issues.