Sunday, March 20, 2011

The parents meeting, also known as ‘’Dance of the Vampires ‘’

   The parents meeting may be, for many parents and pupils, one of the more unpleasant events during schooling, hence the name.
   I will present you some of my experiences with parents-teacher meetings.
   I had no unpleasant surprises with grades, behavior and unjustified absences. And my children got low grades sometimes, made some transgression, my son would make a bit more, sometimes skipped classes, but they would regularly inform me of good and bad news from the school.
  If your child is not telling you the truth about the grades and events from the school, then there is a problem in your mutual relationship, a parents meeting only reveals the cracks in the relationship, and that’s why it is so unpleasant. This will be the subject of one of the following posts.
   I always went to the parent meetings with respect for the authority of school and for the class teacher, but I did not always agree with the attitudes presented or with the decisions taken. In those cases, I would state my opinion and lay out my arguments, and, most often, it would end at that. Before or after the parents meeting I would find out that most parents agree with my opinion, but keep silent out of fear that their children may suffer the consequences because the parents disagree with the school representatives.
    And what I did not agree with was....
    In the lower grades, a day trip was organized at the price for which the agencies in town sold the three-day arrangements. I commented that the price was inappropriate. Nobody supported me.
    The next year, a 10-day trip of “education in Nature” was organized. The teacher notified us that, beside her, several parents, whose children had never been separated from the parents and would have difficult time adjusting to it, were to travel as well. I said that this was not good for the other children who would feel neglected. Now that caused a real uproar of those parents and teacher. Nobody  supported me, yet again.
   When I came home I told my daughter:
‘’From this day forward you need to know everything in school, I expect the teacher to be tougher on you than before.”
  I explained to her what had happened at the parents meeting and asked her to support me. Although she was only 8 years old, she understood. She was studying diligently because the teacher really did change the attitude towards her, sometimes to the point of being malicious.
   One parents meeting while my daughter was in high-school began with a tirade of deep disappointment of the class teacher over the class discipline. The occasion was an act of a girl who had put a scarf around the neck of a bust of a poet in the school hall, and if I remember correctly, put a jacket over his shoulder. The vituperation lasted for over half an hour, and then the teacher sought our approval to punish the girl. I protested. I thought that this gesture could’ve been described as a prank, maybe a performance, or even an expression of closeness with the poet’s work, but not as a disciplinary violation to be punished. Only one parent supported me.
     At the parents’ meeting, in high school as well, the teacher sharply reprimanded us for the bad behavior of the majority of students to one girl in their class. The girl was the daughter of a regional government representative. I found it suspicious that the whole class, with the exception of three students, was being mean to their schoolmate for no reason. I agreed that we should talk with our children to change their conduct, but I asked the teacher to investigate impartially the cause of conflict. Nobody supported me, again, the teacher got angry, and the biggest consequences fell on this girl. She continued to behave arrogantly, insisting too much on the social status of her parents, class ceased to act ugly but began to ignor her, and she was left alone in the community. She excluded herself, and the parents and teachers did not see that she needed their help.
   At the same time, many parents insisted on children’s grades, claiming that they were unfairly and too strictly evaluated, everyone defended his child’s behavior no matter how harmful to the child and to the class, they lied to justify absences from class. When it came to the issues of general interest, they would remain silent. The truth is, the personal interests can be much more easily and successfully protected in a functional community.
   My children were exceptional students, today they are successful and when people ask me how we managed to do so, my answer is:
 ‘’I firmly required that children fulfill their school obligations and respect the teachers, encouraged them to adopt and develop all the good that their school provides, but I was more resolute when defending them from wrong decision the school sometimes took.’’
Silence means consent.

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