Sunday, October 03, 2010

Teaching, Fantasy Football, and Advice to Parents: What a Teacher Wants From the Parents of His Students

By now most schools have already had their parent back to school night and possibly parent teacher conferences.  Both of which amount to a total of about 10 minuets with direct contact between teacher and parent.  As important as teachers are in America, and with many public school systems across the nation failing, one would expect a different approach and attitude toward teaching.  However, this is not the case.

The majority of parents seem satisfied with only seeing the teacher for a minimal amount of time.  Of course, if their child is doing well in class, then the parent is satisfied with the minimal amount of parent-teacher interaction.  However, if the student is failing, no amount of parent-teaching time is enough till the student is passing with grades the parent deems sufficient.

This fact is bothersome.  Especially when one considers the amount of time parents spend doing other non-essentials hobbies.  For instance, August and September gives way to the start of football, which has been elevated to a status far above that of any other weekend activity.  Moreover, if a person were to engross himself in football to the degree EPSN dictates, nothing productive would happen between August and January. 

Today, it is not just a matter of watching football on the weekend.  Now that Fantasy football has come very mainstream, it further skews the importance of the weekend entertainment known as football.  Instead of just flipping on the TV on Sunday to watch your favorite team on the gridiron, one now spends many hours researching the pass defense their number one receiver and quarterback are facing that week. 

But even before rosters are set in Fantasy Football leagues across the nation, the fantasy draft happens.  Leading up to the draft fantasy ‘coaches’ examine the various players and the roles those players have on that team, they examine the rookies and take into account the style of play the rookie is familiar with and decides whether or no he will fit in with his new professional team, they examine the returning and exiting players and how this will impact the play of a franchise player, and they hope dearly to find the one sleeper of the season who will dominate the field of play.

Yet, when compared with something of much importance, say education, parents spend little to no time getting information on the people who teach their sons and daughters.  Very few parents consider asking the teacher, “What is your teaching style?”, “Who were your professor, and how did they form your ability to educate?”, or “How does your education influence your philosophy on the student’s ability to learn?”  The only explanation I can muster for why this is is that parents assume too much about educators.   Parents assume that teachers, who might have 150+ students, can teacher accordingly to the learning style of their son or daughter.  Assuming such a thing is ludicrous because the teacher would have to adjust to 150+ different styles of learning.  The smarter route is for parents to help the student adjust to the teaching occurring in class as much as possible, as the student will have to do this on their own once they enter college.  Further more, every fantasy footballer know that the player who does not adjust to the coaching preference of the head coach is a football player who has little success on the team.

So what is a parent to do? 

First, spend more time on the essentials and less time on the unessential of life.  Consider, “How much TV did I watch today?” then compare it with how much you helped your child with his or her studies.  If there is a vast discrepancy between the two where TV watching far out weighs the amount your help your son or daughter with his or her studies, then there might be a problem. 

Second, inquire from the teacher as to their teaching style.  Does the teacher mostly lecture? Is the teacher more hands on experiential learner? 

Third, you are the parent, the keeper and primary educator of your child, limit your child’s distractions when they do study.  Listening to music, texting on cell phones (I’d recommend taking the cell phone away from the teen during study time), and surfing the Internet does not equate to effective study habits.  There is a reason that for many years the recommended environment for effective study is a quiet environment free of distractions, because it works. 

Fourth, stemming off the third point, monitor your child while he or she is studying.  A good place is the kitchen table or the dinning room table. 

Fifth, make your child show you their complete homework.  Few teachers never give homework.  Most teachers give homework every night.  Assume the latter.  If they tell you they finished it at school, have them show you it anyway.

Sixth, spend a little bit of the evening quizzing your child on the notes they are taking in class.

Seventh, Everyone wants their child making good grades, but not every child is an “A” student in every subject.  However, this does not mean you should lower your expectations.  The student might not see the need for math now, but they will realize the benefit of it later.

Eighth, realize that your child is your legacy. Your job is to get your child to the level of mature responsibility so that he or she can be a productive member of society.
Ninth, if your child says that the teacher is being mean.  You should read this as "the teacher is challenging me, and I don't like it." 
 In no way am I suggesting that people do away with sports or remove them from their life all together.  What I am asking is that the non-essentials of life be placed behind the priorities of life.  What it boils down to is that TV never brought us to the moon.  Baseball did not get us any closer to inventing the microprocessor.  Hockey did not lead the way to great new systems of thinking.  The first thing is to remember to keep the first things first.

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