Parents role in Education ?


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Message 1191767 - Posted: 5 Feb 2012, 17:01:18 UTC

Shouldn't there be a class for parents:

How to deal with the fact your DNA makes morons?

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Message 1191775 - Posted: 5 Feb 2012, 18:19:02 UTC

Shouldn't there be a class for parents:

How to deal with the fact your DNA makes morons?


Gets my vote, but we are treading a very difficult path here. There have been a number of Sci Fi novels and films over the years where a future society is seen, as having to apply for permission, and pass tests, before being allowed to breed.

As each year goes by it really makes me wonder ....

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Message 1191788 - Posted: 5 Feb 2012, 19:29:01 UTC

No question here, Television is child abuse.

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Message 1194253 - Posted: 12 Feb 2012, 8:39:24 UTC
Last modified: 12 Feb 2012, 8:39:55 UTC

Just a quick point on the OP.

Many schools welcome parents in to the classroom. I myself have gone into my sons' primary school many times to assist with reading. I have volunteered to help out with school trips.

I think you'll find that most teachers are happy to have parents involved. Since moving to Canada I have found the schools here also willing to have parents involved. I've been in to help with some science classes and even went on my stepson's school trip with his class.

A child's education is a team effort. As an educator I'd love to have more support and involvement from the parents.
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Message 1194304 - Posted: 12 Feb 2012, 12:58:19 UTC

Hi Es, again I welcome your input.

I 100% agree that a child's education is a team effort, of course it should be, it's the only way to sensibly do it. All parents should play a full part in that in partnership with the Schools. Parents should regularly attend open nights and PTA meetings, and I would strongly encourage involvement with school trips and visits and other such matters. Parents sitting as school governors also have a valuable part to play.

But to be fair Es, you are not the average parent, you are also a fully trained teacher and qualified to teach Science classes. Of course you could go into a science lesson and make a valuable contribution, 99.9% of parents couldn't. You have assisted with reading, many parents have some difficulty with that themselves. Apart from anything else, you are a responsible parent who cares about the quality of your children's education, whereas most do not seem to.

My disagreement here is with the "average parent" physically present in lessons, which I do not think is conducive to anyone's benefit. I gave you an example in my first post and here is another one. You will know as I do, that Teacher Training encourages you to use the "working in pairs" strategy in lessons, where you have a stronger pupil working with a weaker one. That encourages team building, personal responsibility, group dynamics, and frees the teacher to concentrate upon the less ablest in the class. In fact that is part of the tick list on the Annual class inspections.

An average parent witnessing this would likely say "Why does my child have to do extra work just because they are brighter than the rest, that isn't fair". They simply wouldn't see the benefits. Teachers rightly deserve more support and involvement from the parents, and it makes me angry that they generally don't get it. At the end of the day, it's the kids themselves that lose out, that's the tragedy of it all.

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Message 1194325 - Posted: 12 Feb 2012, 14:09:30 UTC - in response to Message 1194304.
Last modified: 12 Feb 2012, 14:35:15 UTC

You will know as I do, that Teacher Training encourages you to use the "working in pairs" strategy in lessons, where you have a stronger pupil working with a weaker one. That encourages team building, personal responsibility, group dynamics, and frees the teacher to concentrate upon the less ablest in the class. In fact that is part of the tick list on the Annual class inspections.


Does this actually work in schools.

From my own experience as an instructor for Higher national level students, usually aged between 23 and 30. I found that pairing a strong student with a weak student usually achieved very little. Usually the results were the work of the stronger student(s), with very little contribution from the weaker student and in most cases the weaker student(s) tended not to improve.
Some of the problems in the weak/strong pairings, in practical tasks, was because the students had to be in different locations and had to rely on the other students actions, if one of of them got it wrong too many times, then loud obscene languague was frequently the result, at a minimum. No more putting them in the same group for the next 20 weeks.

If I grouped them with similar skill levels then, usually, all the group members had to work to produce a result. There were problems with this in the practical tasks as either the stronger students got little lab time or did all possible tasks whilst the weeker students hardly ever left the lab and only completed what we considered the basic minimum.

One reason why this might have been different to what happens in schools is that it was a competitive environment, with the overall result deciding the students working location and pay banding. And we did fail students, about 1 in 25 tended not to make it to the end.

edit] Higher National qualifications in the UK are mainly trade based with quite a bit of theory. Most Uni's in UK will accept them as equivalent to the first two years of a degree.


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Message 1194328 - Posted: 12 Feb 2012, 14:25:31 UTC
Last modified: 21 Mar 2014, 12:27:43 UTC

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Message 1194449 - Posted: 12 Feb 2012, 18:34:27 UTC - in response to Message 1194304.

Hi Es, again I welcome your input.

I 100% agree that a child's education is a team effort, of course it should be, it's the only way to sensibly do it. All parents should play a full part in that in partnership with the Schools. Parents should regularly attend open nights and PTA meetings, and I would strongly encourage involvement with school trips and visits and other such matters. Parents sitting as school governors also have a valuable part to play.

But to be fair Es, you are not the average parent, you are also a fully trained teacher and qualified to teach Science classes. Of course you could go into a science lesson and make a valuable contribution, 99.9% of parents couldn't. You have assisted with reading, many parents have some difficulty with that themselves. Apart from anything else, you are a responsible parent who cares about the quality of your children's education, whereas most do not seem to.

I think you will find that the parents who can't do it, won't volunteer. They might possibly find another way to help out.

My disagreement here is with the "average parent" physically present in lessons, which I do not think is conducive to anyone's benefit. I gave you an example in my first post and here is another one. You will know as I do, that Teacher Training encourages you to use the "working in pairs" strategy in lessons, where you have a stronger pupil working with a weaker one. That encourages team building, personal responsibility, group dynamics, and frees the teacher to concentrate upon the less ablest in the class. In fact that is part of the tick list on the Annual class inspections.

Working in pairs does work. Having to explain something to someone else is an excellent way of ensuring you understand it yourself. Of course this strategy has to be monitored to ensure that the more advanced student isn't just giving the answers, but helping explain the work.

An average parent witnessing this would likely say "Why does my child have to do extra work just because they are brighter than the rest, that isn't fair". They simply wouldn't see the benefits. Teachers rightly deserve more support and involvement from the parents, and it makes me angry that they generally don't get it. At the end of the day, it's the kids themselves that lose out, that's the tragedy of it all.

I am sure as a teacher that you are quite capable of explaining to the parent the benefits of the method. If the parent has bothered to turn up to the classroom to find out what is happening with their child you already have someone who is motivated to help their child anyway. That's half the battle won.

I know that if a parent turned up in my classroom I'd find them something useful to do. I also know that I can back up every teaching strategy I use if they ask.

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Message 1194451 - Posted: 12 Feb 2012, 18:38:57 UTC - in response to Message 1194325.

You will know as I do, that Teacher Training encourages you to use the "working in pairs" strategy in lessons, where you have a stronger pupil working with a weaker one. That encourages team building, personal responsibility, group dynamics, and frees the teacher to concentrate upon the less ablest in the class. In fact that is part of the tick list on the Annual class inspections.


Does this actually work in schools.

From my own experience as an instructor for Higher national level students, usually aged between 23 and 30. I found that pairing a strong student with a weak student usually achieved very little. Usually the results were the work of the stronger student(s), with very little contribution from the weaker student and in most cases the weaker student(s) tended not to improve.
Some of the problems in the weak/strong pairings, in practical tasks, was because the students had to be in different locations and had to rely on the other students actions, if one of of them got it wrong too many times, then loud obscene languague was frequently the result, at a minimum. No more putting them in the same group for the next 20 weeks.

If I grouped them with similar skill levels then, usually, all the group members had to work to produce a result. There were problems with this in the practical tasks as either the stronger students got little lab time or did all possible tasks whilst the weeker students hardly ever left the lab and only completed what we considered the basic minimum.

One reason why this might have been different to what happens in schools is that it was a competitive environment, with the overall result deciding the students working location and pay banding. And we did fail students, about 1 in 25 tended not to make it to the end.

edit] Higher National qualifications in the UK are mainly trade based with quite a bit of theory. Most Uni's in UK will accept them as equivalent to the first two years of a degree.

I've used the method with success, but I wouldn't recommend using it all the time. Sometimes I would have them work in mixed ability groups, sometimes I would have them work in groups of the same ability so that I could focus more energy on the weaker students and give the stronger students a chance to really stretch themselves.
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Message 1194937 - Posted: 13 Feb 2012, 20:48:23 UTC

Has the direction of the thread changed in the past two weeks, or should I just bail out of trying to contribute anything further here?

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Message 1195186 - Posted: 14 Feb 2012, 9:21:34 UTC

Please carry on Sarge. We are talking about what goes on in classes which has a bearing on whether parents would understand what they see should they be present. THis has led to some general comments about whether parentsa should also use other means of supporting schools.

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Message 1195821 - Posted: 15 Feb 2012, 23:32:26 UTC - in response to Message 1189676.

Yep. Geography. Pretty much meaning one and meaning two from that definition.

The exam had a list of several nations, and for each one the student had to discuss the physical features (mountain ranges, rivers, approximate area, etc.), the biological features (the types of climatic zones found in that nation, etc.), the cultural features (approximate population, language(s) spoken, prominent religion(s), the government of that nation, major cities, etc.). Additionally, they had to discuss things like major crops, resources, industries, imports, exports, trading partners, friendly nations, and unfriendly nations.

And it was an essay exam. No short answer. No fill in the blank, no true/false, and especially no multiple choice.

Like I said... Daaayyyuuummm!


I realize I may be guilty of dredging by going back to the question of "dumbing down" of exams, though while I was researching something only adjacently connected I found a reference to the Flynn effect, which makes for interesting reading. I found the link here, which does suggest that there may be some basis to recent grade inflation in the UK, though it is by no means clear cut (in typical Goldacre style, there are many caveats).

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I think you'll find it's a bit more complicated than that ...

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Message 1196047 - Posted: 16 Feb 2012, 17:00:13 UTC - in response to Message 1195821.

Yep. Geography. Pretty much meaning one and meaning two from that definition.

The exam had a list of several nations, and for each one the student had to discuss the physical features (mountain ranges, rivers, approximate area, etc.), the biological features (the types of climatic zones found in that nation, etc.), the cultural features (approximate population, language(s) spoken, prominent religion(s), the government of that nation, major cities, etc.). Additionally, they had to discuss things like major crops, resources, industries, imports, exports, trading partners, friendly nations, and unfriendly nations.

And it was an essay exam. No short answer. No fill in the blank, no true/false, and especially no multiple choice.

Like I said... Daaayyyuuummm!


I realize I may be guilty of dredging by going back to the question of "dumbing down" of exams, though while I was researching something only adjacently connected I found a reference to the Flynn effect, which makes for interesting reading. I found the link here, which does suggest that there may be some basis to recent grade inflation in the UK, though it is by no means clear cut (in typical Goldacre style, there are many caveats).

Certainly there is one A Level maths teacher, who lives with about a 100 mtrs from me, was astounded when I told her, that in my trade knowledge of Trig Indentites (you know that stuff about double and half angle formulas) and logarithms (for Chris's favourite subject db notation) was essential.
She said they covered Trig Identites in one session and the students do no work on them because they take too long and are therefore not in the exams. And that logs are not used because they now had claculators.

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Message 1196186 - Posted: 17 Feb 2012, 2:21:08 UTC - in response to Message 1196047.
Last modified: 17 Feb 2012, 2:21:32 UTC

Certainly there is one A Level maths teacher, who lives with about a 100 mtrs from me, was astounded when I told her, that in my trade knowledge of Trig Indentites (you know that stuff about double and half angle formulas) and logarithms (for Chris's favourite subject db notation) was essential.
She said they covered Trig Identites in one session and the students do no work on them because they take too long and are therefore not in the exams. And that logs are not used because they now had claculators.

If such is the case, they are in for a rude shock in college.
In the past 14 years, I have taught 100 level classes requiring coverage of logs and trig identities (not always in the same course). I do not make these choices. It is what I am told to include in the courses. At more than one institution.
I am also pro-technology ... appropriate use.

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Message 1196379 - Posted: 17 Feb 2012, 17:01:02 UTC - in response to Message 1195821.

Yep. Geography. Pretty much meaning one and meaning two from that definition.

The exam had a list of several nations, and for each one the student had to discuss the physical features (mountain ranges, rivers, approximate area, etc.), the biological features (the types of climatic zones found in that nation, etc.), the cultural features (approximate population, language(s) spoken, prominent religion(s), the government of that nation, major cities, etc.). Additionally, they had to discuss things like major crops, resources, industries, imports, exports, trading partners, friendly nations, and unfriendly nations.

And it was an essay exam. No short answer. No fill in the blank, no true/false, and especially no multiple choice.

Like I said... Daaayyyuuummm!


I realize I may be guilty of dredging by going back to the question of "dumbing down" of exams, though while I was researching something only adjacently connected I found a reference to the Flynn effect, which makes for interesting reading. I found the link here, which does suggest that there may be some basis to recent grade inflation in the UK, though it is by no means clear cut (in typical Goldacre style, there are many caveats).

I do know that I gave questions from my old GCSE physics exam revision guide to my 'A' Level students to do.

However, to be fair, 'A' Level students cover a wider breadth of subjects now than we did back then. It makes the British curriculum a little more like the rest of the world where students don't specialise so early.
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Message 1196391 - Posted: 17 Feb 2012, 17:26:24 UTC - in response to Message 1196379.

However, to be fair, 'A' Level students cover a wider breadth of subjects now than we did back then. It makes the British curriculum a little more like the rest of the world where students don't specialise so early.

Is that a good thing?
I personally am not totally convinced. I've been in situations where the late specialisation of people outside UK meant they did not have a deep enough understanding of the subject, even though on paper they had the higher qualification than the Brits. The subject involved the applied knowledge of Physics, Chemistry and Maths.

And in one area that is well known, most Americans have very little knowledge of foreign affair's or the location of the incidents, which theoretically a wider education should give them.

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Message 1196516 - Posted: 17 Feb 2012, 23:44:09 UTC - in response to Message 1196379.

Yep. Geography. Pretty much meaning one and meaning two from that definition.

The exam had a list of several nations, and for each one the student had to discuss the physical features (mountain ranges, rivers, approximate area, etc.), the biological features (the types of climatic zones found in that nation, etc.), the cultural features (approximate population, language(s) spoken, prominent religion(s), the government of that nation, major cities, etc.). Additionally, they had to discuss things like major crops, resources, industries, imports, exports, trading partners, friendly nations, and unfriendly nations.

And it was an essay exam. No short answer. No fill in the blank, no true/false, and especially no multiple choice.

Like I said... Daaayyyuuummm!


I realize I may be guilty of dredging by going back to the question of "dumbing down" of exams, though while I was researching something only adjacently connected I found a reference to the Flynn effect, which makes for interesting reading. I found the link here, which does suggest that there may be some basis to recent grade inflation in the UK, though it is by no means clear cut (in typical Goldacre style, there are many caveats).

I do know that I gave questions from my old GCSE physics exam revision guide to my 'A' Level students to do.

However, to be fair, 'A' Level students cover a wider breadth of subjects now than we did back then. It makes the British curriculum a little more like the rest of the world where students don't specialise so early.


U.S. Math Education reform is trying to fight the "inch deep, mile wide" curricula. Kids from Asian countries score higher on international comparison tests because they obtain this deep knowledge beginning in elementary school.

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Message 1196748 - Posted: 18 Feb 2012, 7:48:12 UTC - in response to Message 1196391.

However, to be fair, 'A' Level students cover a wider breadth of subjects now than we did back then. It makes the British curriculum a little more like the rest of the world where students don't specialise so early.

Is that a good thing?
I personally am not totally convinced. I've been in situations where the late specialisation of people outside UK meant they did not have a deep enough understanding of the subject, even though on paper they had the higher qualification than the Brits. The subject involved the applied knowledge of Physics, Chemistry and Maths.

And in one area that is well known, most Americans have very little knowledge of foreign affair's or the location of the incidents, which theoretically a wider education should give them.

I think there are pros and cons. You are right that specialism can be a good thing, but we are dealing with very young people. Can we expect them to really know what they want to do at that age?
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Message 1196750 - Posted: 18 Feb 2012, 7:49:54 UTC - in response to Message 1196516.

Yep. Geography. Pretty much meaning one and meaning two from that definition.

The exam had a list of several nations, and for each one the student had to discuss the physical features (mountain ranges, rivers, approximate area, etc.), the biological features (the types of climatic zones found in that nation, etc.), the cultural features (approximate population, language(s) spoken, prominent religion(s), the government of that nation, major cities, etc.). Additionally, they had to discuss things like major crops, resources, industries, imports, exports, trading partners, friendly nations, and unfriendly nations.

And it was an essay exam. No short answer. No fill in the blank, no true/false, and especially no multiple choice.

Like I said... Daaayyyuuummm!


I realize I may be guilty of dredging by going back to the question of "dumbing down" of exams, though while I was researching something only adjacently connected I found a reference to the Flynn effect, which makes for interesting reading. I found the link here, which does suggest that there may be some basis to recent grade inflation in the UK, though it is by no means clear cut (in typical Goldacre style, there are many caveats).

I do know that I gave questions from my old GCSE physics exam revision guide to my 'A' Level students to do.

However, to be fair, 'A' Level students cover a wider breadth of subjects now than we did back then. It makes the British curriculum a little more like the rest of the world where students don't specialise so early.


U.S. Math Education reform is trying to fight the "inch deep, mile wide" curricula. Kids from Asian countries score higher on international comparison tests because they obtain this deep knowledge beginning in elementary school.

US education is a mess, I wouldn't compare it to French or German for example where kids do the baccalaureate. They don't specialise before they are 18, but they certainly cover a good depth of the subjects they learn.
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Message 1196766 - Posted: 18 Feb 2012, 8:59:39 UTC - in response to Message 1196748.

However, to be fair, 'A' Level students cover a wider breadth of subjects now than we did back then. It makes the British curriculum a little more like the rest of the world where students don't specialise so early.

Is that a good thing?
I personally am not totally convinced. I've been in situations where the late specialisation of people outside UK meant they did not have a deep enough understanding of the subject, even though on paper they had the higher qualification than the Brits. The subject involved the applied knowledge of Physics, Chemistry and Maths.

And in one area that is well known, most Americans have very little knowledge of foreign affair's or the location of the incidents, which theoretically a wider education should give them.

I think there are pros and cons. You are right that specialism can be a good thing, but we are dealing with very young people. Can we expect them to really know what they want to do at that age?

Some do, my youngest always since he was about seven wanted to know all about computers, now MSc in computer science with mathematics, Manchester and Imperial.
My sister always wanted to follow her mother into nursing, specifically surgery, has been a senior theatre sister in large English city for over 20 years.
One of her daughters wanted to follow in her fathers footsteps and become a doctor, did change her mind though, she qualified as a dentist at Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry, Queen Mary's two years go.

So in our family, even in the younger generation, 40% knew what they wanted to do at a young age and did it.

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