The article by Thomas L. Friedman entitled “How About Better Parents?” talks about the involvement of parents when it comes to their child’s education. He says that great teachers can really make a difference, but it is better parents that can push individual progress. The statistics of exam results when it comes to high school students were compared around the world. People are wondering why America scores in the bottom as compared to countries such as Shanghai, Singapore and Finland. The article takes the blame off the teachers and the students and takes a look at parents who are not involved with their children’s studies. It was found that students with parents who read to them at an early age, and would help them with their studies showed better test results as compared to parents who did not read to their kids often or at all. Most studies focus on why children don’t study, blaming video games, social activities or even too much school work. However, this article focuses on the parents, who should be playing a big role in making sure that their kids are doing well in school and are keeping up with their studies. It states that parents who are more involved and concerned about their kids’ education are more likely to help them out. This also makes it easier for the children to approach the parents when they need help with something. Parents now are so quick to blame the educational system, teachers and even their kids for low grades or the rate of dropouts. They point their fingers on things like video games, divorce rates or outside influences that should only be external factors. An internal factor starts in the home, with the discipline and guidance of the parents.
In America, parenting is a very touchy subject. No one wants to tell any parent that they are doing the wrong thing or are not doing their job. Many people just lay off the topic and mutter to themselves if they see children misbehaving with their parents in plain sight. Numerous times have lines “don’t tell me how to raise my kids” been repeated. No one wants to hear that their children are not being raised well, no one wants to find out that their parenting might not be as effective as they would like to think. For parents to raise their kids right, they need to set an example when it comes to studying, they need to get involved and really focus on the studies of their children. This does not mean it is right to spoon feed them. However, when it comes to being interested in their work and showing that they are important enough to help, it can be a start. Study habits start with discipline. This should be taught at an early age. If your five year old comes home from kindergarten, you should tell them to do a couple of exercises before they can go out and play. At bedtime, it should be a habit to read to them. This helps them understand that books are important. Parents are the first people to look at when children are not behaving. The burden shouldn’t be on the teachers as they are just aids for learning. Discipline and good study habits should start in the home, with the parents, getting the whole family involved. It is time to stop blaming teachers. It’s true that a great teacher can make a big difference in a classroom. However, if the child is not willing to learn, it is no longer the fault of the teacher. It is usually how the child was raised. Many people like to point fingers at divorce or broken families, saying that their children cannot study well because they are traumatized. It is not right to always make this an excuse. Sometimes, parents should take responsibility and try to get more involved with the studies of their children. It is not always the system or the teachers. As the study said, the teachers are only there for teaching. They are not responsible for the attitudes of the children – that is where the parents come in.
It is much more difficult to raise teens and expect them to study, as stated in the research. Times are changing and the way of raising kids is also transforming along with different culture, standards and technology. We have things like television or video games that are argued about countless times. Do they really help kids learn more or are they a distraction? Parents are so quick on pointing fingers and saying that it is technology’s fault why their kids don’t want to study, why they’ve become so anti-social, why they’ve become so violent. We have children texting in class – we blame the teacher and say that he/she is boring when we should blame the parents for not putting boundaries. Parents need to share the blame, too. It’s not always the fault of their peers, they need to see lines, limits and boundaries for their actions. If a child texts too much during class, warn them and limit their phone time. If they don’t want to stop, confiscate the device. It won’t be the end of the world. This is why children are such brats these days, they aim for instant gratification. Parents are so scared to discipline their kids and set rules. This is something that should not even be said, parents should want to be involved. It is not excuse that they are too busy for their kids or that they are not around. They are your kids, they are your responsibility.
Rewards for studying and getting high grades isn’t good either. There was a time when money for grades motivated children, this goes the same as household chores. Kids’ allowance should not be based upon how many chores they did or if they got A’s on their exam. Chores are a part of the house and should be done by those living under the roof – not to earn their stay but to work as a team, as a family unit. Good grades shouldn’t be motivated by money, they should be rewarded with intellectual rewards. Giving money for good grades doesn’t make sense because the child should want to get good grades for the sake of getting good grades. The aim is to understand, gain knowledge and excel, not for monetary exchange. This ruins the value of grades and makes it something that can be paid off.
The article overall was an interesting piece that highlighted a lot of things about students and their grades. Although, standardized tests should not be the only means to measure grades of a community, other activities should be focused on as well. As we know, not all children are the same when it comes to academic work – some are better at one subject while others excel in different ones. It should not be the sole basis on assessing children and their study habits. Also, teaching is a undervalued profession that should not be targeted when it comes to good grades. There are many excellent teachers who are not getting their deserved salary, rest or even appreciation. They get repaid with rude students who sleep through class, skip lessons, don’t pay attention and everything else. Then, they get blamed for low test scores. If there is a decline in teaching standards, it is caused by morality that is triggered by rude students. This is where parents are to be blamed. The teacher cannot take the whole burden of teaching and raising children. Manners and proper etiquette should be taught inside the home, all academic knowledge should be taught in school and supplemented by interested parents who sincerely care about their children’s grades. There is no excuse for rude behavior, or bad studying habits. This is something that should start from the home. Parents should stop pointing fingers and think about how they raise their kids.
Thomas L. Friedman. (Nov 19, 2011). “How About Better Parents?” The New York Times.