Parental Involvement in the News: Essay in Washington Post

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[Source:  Washington Post]

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Is parent involvement in school really useful?

It’s one of those things in education that everybody takes for granted: parent involvement is good and necessary. But is it, and if so, what kind? Here is an analysis from Alfie Kohn, the author of 12 books about education and human behavior, including “The Schools Our Children Deserve,” “The Homework Myth,” and “Feel-Bad Education… And Other Contrarian Essays on Children & Schooling.” He lives (actually) in the Boston area and (virtually) at www.alfiekohn.org.

By Alfie Kohn

When people who write about agriculture or dentistry tackle the important issues in their respective fields, do they try to shake things up?  Are they feisty and willing to peer beneath the surface of whatever topic they’re exploring?  I have no idea.  But I do know that those qualities are awfully hard to find in what’s written about education.

Consider the question of parent involvement in schooling.  Almost everything published on this subject leaves the ideological foundations of the discussion unexamined.  Either we’re treated to a predictable announcement that Involvement Is Good (“Parents should do more!”) or else we’re warned that some folks have a tendency to get, well, you know, a little too involved.  (“Jeremy, I’m wondering whether you might have had some help with your science fair project?  I ask only because it’s unusual for a sixth grader to build a working nuclear reactor”).  Put these two themes together and the message seems to be that the interest parents take in their children’s education is either inadequate or excessive.

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