While teachers are professionally trained to care for students, parents do so experientially. The care of teachers and parents is similar in that they both intend to provide the best for the child. On the other hand, it is different because teachers and parents hold different expectations of students/children. An additional variable to these is the child’s own aspirations, choices, and expectations of him/herself. While tension typically characterizes the competing motives among these individuals, the eventual outcome impacts all three significantly.
Well-intentioned parents believe that education is the key to succeed in life. Whether a parent has limited or complete understanding of education, its origin, purpose, and characteristics, he/she tend to view it positively. Parents’ hopeful attitude toward education reflects their desire to see their child(ren) live more fulfilling, comfortable, and dignified lives than themselves. Parents think that education is a life-changing means to the end of experiencing the joys of being educated.
Consequently, parents set specific plans for their child(ren) and they start early. A lot of parents think about their child(ren)’s education, career, life-partner, etc., even before he/she celebrates his/her first birthday. Parents often live out the future of their child(ren) in the present by visualizing all possibilities that could be achieved. However, their primary pre-occupation centers around the product of education, disregarding its process (e.g. Grades, assignments, projects, awards, certificates, university admission, etc.). Unless truly devoted, parents do not get into studying and understanding the actual philosophy, psychology, and mechanics of education.
Because of professional training, teachers understand the technicalities of education better than parents. Teachers are also trained to put education in the context of children’s development and needs. They talk about and provide education in systematic, reflective, and creative ways. Curriculum, instructional strategies, classroom behavior management, assessment, etc. are some of their pre-occupation. Teachers view children as the recipients of their expertise in education.
Teachers experience an elated sense of satisfaction if and when theories and/or principles learned during teacher training could be utilized successfully with children in the classroom. Hence teachers define student success only inasmuch as the accomplishment occurs as a result of their direct intervention and input (at least that is what they would like to think and believe).
Sandwiched between parents and teachers, students view education with mixed feelings. They operate in between the two emphases given to education from the two most important social institutions known to humans. Children do not understand why parents are gung ho about pre-determining how most of their educational experiences are encountered, without consulting them. At school, children wonder why they feel like objects of experimentation – where school administrators and teachers are eager to conduct new studies on them to discover fresh insight into how teaching and learning really work.
Finding a common ground
It is not difficult for the three groups of people directly involved in the process and product of education to agree upon a unified appreciation of what a school should stand for. This is possible when everyone starts looking at, talking about, and taking action on education based on a better, more realistic understanding about its true nature and significance. The negative cycle that perpetuates misconception about education must be broken and replaced by a progressive view about teaching and learning.
Parents should stop treating their children the same way their own parents treated them – pushing instead of presenting education to children. Teachers should seek to grow in their profession by mastering the art and science of learning about pedagogy through first-hand experiences of learners, instead of constantly testing the effectiveness of theories and/or principles learned at teacher training college using students as their subjects.
When the attitude of parents and teachers toward education change, children will experience minimum cognitive dissonance about learning and become convinced about the need for a good education.