I received an email from a parent of two high schoolers in Arlington, Virginia, where she articulated the problem with schools that never seek feedback from either students or parents. She wrote:
I recently read the book Cure Unknown on the Lyme epidemic and was struck by a quote from Jonas Salk. He talks about discovery in science resulting from “entering into a dialog with nature.” The truly gifted teachers seems to understand inately that educating a child requires having an ongoing dialog with them. And they continually adjust “instruction” in response to the discoveries they make as they learn from their students. Somehow schools need to find a way to ensure that ongoing dialog occurs so that teachers truly work with students and parents to support learning.
What strikes me as a huge and glaring oversight, when it comes to how our schools serve their clientele, is that no effort is made to regularly solicit feedback from students and parents. If there were a mechanism for ongoing open and honest dialog between schools and their clients then unreasonable expectations would be a rarity. Perhaps homework wouldn’t be such a problem because it would be meaningful, reasonable, and less rigidly applied. Instead, we have a environment where parents are afraid to approach school personal unless/until there’s a crisis. And those who do contact the teacher often feel that nothing is accomplished other than bringing their child unwanted and sometimes negative attention. It seems that most teacher-student relationships are viewed as adversarial, with students as well as parents hesitant to and even fearful of sharing struggles with teachers. Instead parents often end up doing too much of the work for their children rather than approaching the teacher. And then the teacher never learns that the assignment needs adjustment, and the vicious cycle continues. Honestly, I’m perplexed as to how schools continue to operate in this manner.