Tuesday, 15 March 2016

A post about things teachers should do.

I am mostly happy to engage in conversations and questions about teaching and school life ith parents of children who are not my student. Part of this is because some people don't know any teachers, outside of their child's school, and sometimes I can shed light on things. Other times, it's because teachers are people too, and we all need to remind people of this.

You have probably seen those pictures of Facebook of kids engaging with something fun, different and practical with the phrase 'Kids should learn this in school! 'Click like if you agree!!!!' And today I read a post about how teachers reward students for parents doing their homework for them (again, false.) I want to address some of this because I can.

There are lots of things teachers can and should teach.

Should schools teach gardening?
Yes, and plenty of them do. They don't have to, but it's certainly a good option for Home Ec and the Sciences.

Should schools teach another language?
Yes, and the majority of them do. It may not be the language you would like little Johnny to learn, and personally, I hate children learning, for example, German, just because it's the only LOTE teacher a school can find, but it is better than nothing.

Sometimes though, learning another language is not a good option for students who have English as a second language, or who struggle already using English in every day life. Then LOTE becomes a fruitless and which they will may not experience success.

Should schools teach Auslan/sign language?
If you have someone who can, why not? If you don't, skip it, unless you have a student who does communicate in Auslan in the school.

Should schools teach Australian History? Because I have heard they don't.
Oh, some guy made a meme about how Facebook won't allow pictures of the Australian flag/Coat of Arms/anything war related and you want to jump on that hobby horse? Yeah, good one.

The Australian Curriculum does teach explicit parts of Australian History throughout primary school. I am not up to speed on high school, but I do remember doing an awful lot about the First Fleet and have no knowledge about history outside of Australia when i was in school. Other people have said the opposite, hence Australian Curriculum!

Should schools allow prayer?
There seems to be some confusion between Australia and America on this one. Australia, to my knowledge, never started the school day with prayer, unless it is a (for lack of a better word) "religious" school. In my time at public school I remember praying once when we were asked to pray for an incoming school chaplain. Once in five years is not a lot.

A much better question should be, should schools allow religious instruction? And in some cases and places, schools have answered 'no', for a number of good reasons. Well meaning volunteers are not teachers, and need to liaise with a school about their program. The National School Chaplaincy Program, as flawed as it is, helps keep schools and churches in communication with one another.

If prayer, Christianity or whatever religion takes your fancy, is a priority for your family, look at sending your children to a school that suits your faith if you want them to be instructed in this. To be honest, along with "intentional" parenting and a connection to the church, public school is still a good option.

Schools don't sing the national anthem or allow students to recite the Pledge of Allegiance anymore!
Dude, this isn't America. We don't have a Pledge of Allegiance, unless you count someone replacing the word 'America' with 'Australia'.

The thing is, the National Anthem will probably be first memorised by your child at school, during assembly for the first seven years of their schooling life. You've got nothing to worry about, or if you do, go to more sporting matches.

Explain schools teaching 'values'
For whatever reason, many schools teach 'values'. Want to learn about honesty, courage, 'a fair go', manners? Go to school!

In South Australia, Government schools have their own school values, and these are explored in different ways, whether it is acknowledging students who possess these values, or discussing them explicitly, or doing some pretty worksheets on it. In an ideal world, this is something parents should be able to teach their children, but this isn't always the case, and what better place to put it to the test than the school yard?

Schools aren't doing enough about bullying!
In some cases, no they are not.

In other cases, they are doing so much to discourage bullying that it's actually unhelpful. If you're concerned, ask about the school's anti-bullying policy. Observe how your child interacts with other students. If you're not happy, speak to the child's teacher, or 'take it further' (such as speaking to the teacher's line manager). Is it bullying, or simply being unkind as a one off thing? Please bear in mind there is only so much a school can do about bullying, especially online or outside of school, and if it is happening outside of school you need to look at pursuing different avenues to help bring closure to the bullying.

Schools should teach life skills (eg budgeting, write a resume)
And they do.

Maths in high school - check. Money in primary school - check.

Resume writing in SA tends to be done as part of a Careers Unit. Growing up we were given white folders as 'portfolios', to be taken to job interviews. I never knew anyone who did this, but I'm sure plenty of people did.

Life skills are taught in other places, such as in the home or on the job. They cannot be graded, and the reward is a slow burn, more often than not, This is usually taught in addition to the curriculum, which is crowded as it is.

Schools should teach first aid
Some countries do teach CPR every year to their students. In my experience, you learn first aid as part of health. In terms of being given proper instructors, I only remember the Outdoor Education kids learning this, lucky them. This would be a great initiative, and really, the only thing that is not taught to all children, and really should be (on this list at least!)

And so concludes my debunking session for today.