In Search of a Good Balance | Mark’s Remarks - Republic-Times | News

In Search of a Good Balance | Mark’s Remarks

By on January 31, 2018 at 9:30 am

I consider myself an optimist most of the time. But as an educator, I am often in a black mood about the state of affairs surrounding education. I am often in a black mood about how blame is placed on schools and teachers.

It’s really a shame.

Blessings abound when it comes to teaching. So many of us, including myself, will go on and on about the fantastic parents we have worked with.  There are far more good, solid parents than there are challenging parents. And I like to give the challenging parents as much grace as I am able to muster, knowing they don’t necessarily mean to be challenging all the time, on purpose. My hat is off to those parents who work and manage families. 

Parenting is not an easy job if it’s done the way it’s supposed to be done.

For several years, a new trend has started: school bashing. It may be the entire school system and it may be individual teachers. 

My parents used to tell me this: “If you get in trouble at school, you’ll be in worse trouble at home.” My parents almost always took the side of the teacher, and if they disagreed with the teacher, they never let me know it. You see, when parents badmouth an educator in front of their children, those children no longer feel it necessary to show respect to that teacher. And yes, I believe teachers must conduct themselves in a way that earns respect. 

So, there are two sides to that story. I also believe there are indeed schools that have honestly failed kids. Perhaps I am wishy-washy.

But oh, this trend of blaming everything on schools. Ugh.  What the heck are we doing? I feel that very little “gathering of the facts” is done anymore.  This is happening not only in education. Finger-pointing means you are guilty, no matter what. Then, in a rare case when you are actually proven innocent, people still remember the finger was once wagged in your direction.

I wonder what things would be like if we were to step back.  Sure, there’s a concern. Sure, there are questions to be asked.  Sure, there are reasons to possibly be upset. But let’s take a step back and gather all the information.

There are many times teachers have to be great actors. We have to appear non-judgmental, kind, and understanding all the time. Sometimes it comes naturally and we really are in this frame of mind. But I think any teacher will tell you our demeanor often wants to crack wide open. Then, the questions want to come spewing forth.

How much time does your child spend on video games?  How much time and money is spent on every sport, lesson and camp you can cram into their schedule? Is there rest and down time scheduled into your child’s life? Does your child’s success with sports or other “extracurriculars” supersede the need to succeed in school?  How much importance do you put on finishing school work, checking school work, and doing a quality job? Do you ever read to your child or place any importance on reading at home? Do you think your child is entitled to good grades or do you believe they must earn them?  

When your child is doing his or her best, and working up to his or her ability level, why are you upset with the school when your child doesn’t make an “A”?

There are a few parents who simply can’t hear anything that even hints at the negative when it involves their child. They can’t handle that their child may be capable of wrongdoing, a mean thought, or poor behavior.  Any negative behavior that a child displays is not a reflection upon the parent necessarily.  

Kids can be nasty or make mistakes regardless of their upbringing.

Just like anything else in our world today, education could benefit so much more from people working together. Why can’t we all get over ourselves and discuss our concerns properly? 

Anytime I get on my judgmental high horse about parents, kids and education, someone invariably comes up to me and says “You were dead on.  Your column spoke the truth and I appreciated your writing it.”

I’m not patting myself on the back. I’m stating a fact.

And that person is usually a parent.

Mark Tullis

Mark is a 25-year veteran teacher teaching in Columbia. Originally from Fairfield, Mark is married with four children. He enjoys reading, writing, and spending time with his family, and has been involved in various aspects of professional and community theater for many years and enjoys appearing in local productions. Mark has also written a "slice of life" style column for the Republic-Times since 2007.