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back to article Parents in dark about kids' school life

Becta has warned that a three-way communication breakdown between schools, parents and kids could have a harmful affect on individuals’ educational performance. Unsurprisingly the UK government’s technology agency, which published a new report today, was keen to underline what it sees as the importance of IT in the classroom to …

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Unhappy

It has always been like this

There is nothing new in this, and I can't see how technology is going to help. My son goes to a large faceless comp and we have a lot of difficulty finding out what he does, plus at least some of the staff seem to be completely unaware of known problems he has. The school don't even have phones in the classrooms and notes still get left in boxes for the teachers by reception, and quite often don't get read because getting them involves a 15 minute walk from the classroom back to reception. How about some 1980's tech that actually works?

"Becta wheeled out child psychologist Professor Tanya Byron to comment on how communication between parents, kids and schools could be improved with the use of technology."

So you never have to actually talk to a human being. In which the tactless email can be sent "by accident" and make things even worse? In what way would that be better?

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Oh god no

"She called on "the harnessing" of technologies that "enable seamless communication between school and home" to make a schoolkid's day a more collaborative experience in which the parent plays a key role."

The absolute last thing I wanted when I was a teenager at school was for my parents to have any involvement at all in my day. School is where you learn to be an independent entity and should be (apart from in matter related to academic progress and problem behaviour) free of the purview of the parents.

It would be horrible to have had my parents able to see me in class, and it would probably lead to overprotective mothers getting even more obsessed and sheltering their poor little lambs (whose growth they already stunt with overprotection) even more.

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mandatory cynicism

Because We All Know That IT has Solved All The Inter Departmental Communication Problems Of the Past 30 Years, And a Wave of The Magic Wand Will Solve Everything.

I predict not more than twelve comments before someone trots out the "government doing the parenting for them" line.

I daresay the probem is more the teacher dont know the coherent thrust of the academic policy(fnar fnar), nevermind the schoolchildren. While this free information for all involved would be a nice idea, its misplaced optimism. Still, donated equine dentistry isn't a sustainable profession these days :D

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WIIFM?

Talk about reporting the bleedin' obvious.

Everyone knows that kids don't talk about "what we did in school today" - at least, when they get past the grand old age of 6. How do we know this? Because we did it ourselves, plus our parents did the same and no doubt their parents before them.

Part of the reticence is about power: there are few areas where kids have any control, and having your parents ask you for information is obviously one of them. However, part of it is also about intrusion. A school is a place for the kids (despite what the teachers might think). If their parents start intruding into that place - either by turning up there and seeing for themsleves, or by giving their kids the third-degree, there's bound to be resentment and resistance - afterall, the kids don't ask their parents "what did you do at work all day" (or, worse: "what did you do sitting around at home all day"?)

However, if they really want to know, and I suspect that if they were ever told the unexpurgated truth, they'd quickly learn never to ask again, there should be a quid-pro-quo. After all the kids should be able to get something for this seemingly valuable information. If parents are so anxious to find out what goes on, their kids could well ask "What's In It For Me?" Let's see how much they're prepared to pay for it.

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Technology (tm) to the Rescue!

Um, how exactly will Technology help? Did anyone at Becta care to elaborate?

I'd like Technology to get me laid more often, too, but that doesn't mean it'll happen.

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Pat

What's taught is not always what's learnt

Some teachers like to have a communication gap between themselves, the pupil and the parents if the school system permits it. It seems to allow some teachers to distance themselves from what, if anything, has been learnt as they have 'taught' the lesson.

(As one boy had not submitted several homework assignments, over a space of several months, a member of my family eventually met with a Design Technology teacher at the school. He then had to help his boy catch up. He told me the assigments made no sense at all, and if he as a qualified engineer couldn't make sense of what the teacher provided then his teenage son had no chance, and was unsurprisingly pissy about the teacher and the subject.)

Most parents who are interested would like to have available the subject curriculum, class progress, and homework assignments with due dates. Some schools make this information available on the web, as well as printed homework assignments given to the pupils. Some, instead, only verbally give homework assignments with variable due dates at the end of a class (when pupils are likely to be noisy, distracted or bored senseless). Which would you regard as more helpful to the parents, and beneficial for the pupils' education?

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@David Hicks

You're absolutely right. Nothing would have been more embarrassing than having parents who were more involved in what was going on between me and the school. And this was even considerable time before I became a teenager.

If there is something wrong at school which needs to be brought to the parent's attention, it should be the teachers getting in touch with them. This is how it's been for ages and it actually worked quite well. And no technology whatoever can counter parents who don't care much and weak, overstrained teachers.

EA

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email

All it takes is a teacher with email and the competence to use it (the latter is less likely than the former).

I regularly email my child's teacher and she is fairly good at responding and keeping me up to date. Ideally I would prefer it if these channels of communication were better advertised to parents and guardians as it took me quite a lot of effort to obtain his teacher's email address.

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eh?

I don't ever recall my parents even asking me what I did at school.

The only time they found out what was going on was when the school wrote to them :D

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@Simon Painter

> All it takes is a teacher with email

But we all know how terribly, terribly overworked all these teachers are. How can you possibly suggest thay they increase their (already overwhelming) burden with yet more?

... sorry, I can't go on with this facade. Yes, that's all it would take. However, most teachers are utterly useless with technology and extremely resentful of any possibility of someone checking up on them. While they can threaten the children in their care for not doing the assigned work, no-one can (or dares) criticise the teachers when they goof-off, find excuses for not doing things professionally, or put road-blocks in their own way to sabotage the possibility of "outsiders" discovering exactly what they do for the few hours each day when they're in front of a class.

Just as exam results are really a reflection on the teaching quality - not on the kids' abilities, maybe the best solution would be for the kids to write-up weekly reports on the teachers. Not so much what _we_ did in school as what the paid professionals did to teach us.

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I ran fast, but my parents ran faster

I was all for hiding from them what was happening at school, but they knew darn well what my motivation was and didn't share it. They made sure the teachers knew that they were going to be 'hands-on' parents who wanted to know, and gawd help any teacher who tried to blind them with edu-speak. So I was not allowed to screw up my life and now, many years later, I wonder at their tenacity and thank them for it. Teenagers naturally want to wrest power from their parents, but the teenage years are not that time. Parents just have to be prepared to work hard and be hated...for a while.

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Paris Hilton

@Technology (tm) to the Rescue!

'I'd like Technology to get me laid more often, too, but that doesn't mean it'll happen.'

- Well, I just think you're using the wrong kind of technology. Blow it up when you want to use it.

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@Ian Ferguson

"I'd like Technology to get me laid more often, too, but that doesn't mean it'll happen."

http://www.realdoll.com

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Re: WIIFM?

>Everyone knows that kids don't talk about "what we did in school today" - at least, when they get past the grand old age of 6. How do we know this? Because we did it ourselves...

You must have a pretty poor relationship with your children. One of the first things my 16 year old daughter does when I get home is tell me about her day. I mention her age and gender as most people seem to think that together they make a particularly difficult combination, if that is so then I cannot say I have the same experience. Her older brother used to do the same when he was living at home.

>afterall, the kids don't ask their parents "what did you do at work all day"

This is one of the other things she does regularly.

How can we help our children with their schoolwork and personal problems if there is a them and us barrier and how can they be prepared for what is to come if we don't tell them what life in the outside world is like.

This is a matter of relationships and has sod all to do with technology and is not something that "IT in the classroom" will solve. And what exactly is meant by "IT in the classroom"? Does the government's technology agency think that by placing a computer in the classroom it will help a dysfunctional family communicate better?. This is exactly the same kind of thinking that leads wacky jacqui to believe a database is the solution to everything.

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Analogy for you

Imagine, after every work day, having to write an eleven page report in your own time on what happenned during the work day, when you're too tired to be eloquent.

Oddly enough I was among the countless schoolkids who couldn't be arsed making this kind of effort while moderately dehydrated due to a long day in hot classrooms in a heavy uniform. I just wanted to cool off and doze off and so I did.

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If I ask my daughter...

...'how was her day?' She'll tell me. Right from the moment she got up, to the moment she met me. In incredible detail. I've learned to phrase the question *much* more carefully...

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Stop

Technology is not the answer

The problem here is one of communication, and requires the attention of sociologists or psychologists to help change people's behavior. This includes the parents and teachers just as much as the students. If you want to know what your kids are doing at school, they need to be comfortable talking to you about it, and there are all kinds of ways to screw that up. Adding 'technology' will do nothing to help if anyone is unwilling to use it. If they are willing, they'll be just as happy to use traditional means of communication.

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