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For the Love of Learning: How Can Parents and Teachers Help Each Other?

This post will be featured in Cathy Rubin's The Global Search for Education: Our Top 12 Teacher Blogs.

Here are 4 understandings that help parents and teachers to educate children.

1. Teach the whole-child. Ask any parents what their long-term concerns and goals are for their children, and seldom will you hear about test scores and world rankings. Their concerns are compelling, existential and heartfelt. Parents want their kids to be happy, hard-working, motivated, responsible, honest, empathetic, intelligent, collaborative, creative and courageous. Of course we want our children to grow academically, but we also want them to grow emotionally, socially and physically, and this requires a well-rounded education.

2. Teaching and parenting is about relationships, relationships, relationshipsParents and teachers know that children do not care what you know until they know that you care about them. Good teaching and parenting is less about doing things to children and more about working with them. Because rewards and punishments are by definition manipulative and coercive, they undermine our relationships and therefore need to be tempered or even abandoned. This means teachers would not use token economies or classroom management schemes that treat children like pets and parents wouldn't use time-outs or bribes

3. Good parents and teachers are not born -- they are made. Parenting and teaching are the easiest jobs to get wrong and the hardest to get right. Regardless of experience and expertise, we are all human and are subject to impatience and ignorance.  The best parents and teachers don't waste their limited time, effort and resources on blaming and shaming -- instead, they see every problem as an opportunity to teach and learn.

4. Public education is not a private interest for an elite few -- it is a public good for all. Public education, like democracy, is reserved only for those who fight for it. First time parents don't realize how important sleep is until it is taken from them -- the same is true for our public schools.

The only thing that destructive education policies require to thrive is for good people to do nothing. Parents and teachers must work together as stewards for our public schools and demand that public education remain a public good for all. This requires parents and teachers to pay attention as much or more to their public schools as their favourite sports and celebrities.

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Joe Bower

Joe Bower teaches in Alberta, Canada.