I can hear the collective sighs of parents and caregivers, ‘school is back!’ I am included in that mix!
Our educators and their support staff are likely sighing too. Most are returning to work in the State’s & Nation’s education facilities hoping their preparation during the ‘holidays’ will put them in good stead for a productive and fruitful year. Some, on their first postings, will be fresh-faced and like those before them aspiring to inspire our children to learn.
The students will have mixed emotions. Many will face the new school year with trepidation and others will share varying degrees of excitement.
Depending on the age of your offspring you will be facing many challenges; from what to pack in their lunch boxes to worrying about the subject choices of more senior students and how that might impact on their future careers.
Another challenge for some will be paying the voluntary contribution for our ‘free’ education. This can range from $60 to $1000 a year in the public system per child. That doesn’t include the add-ons of uniforms, sporting club affiliations, school camps and other sundry items.
In Australia, education is primarily the responsibility of the states and territories. Both public and private education systems are funded jointly by each state/territory government and the Commonwealth. There may never be enough money in the education sphere, the requirements are immense.
So if government funding is always going to fall short, in terms of delivering an education utopia, what can we do to supplement it with in-kind contributions which will make a difference?
Perhaps we can start with a change in the ethos behind education?
It is not just a school environment which teaches us how to think, learn and importantly how to feel. The family environment is critical to creating well-rounded learning too.
Perhaps we should start to think and act like other nations who achieve a higher level of outcomes associated with learning. The only thing I can put my finger on is that in nations such as our Asian neighbours, it seems that a higher percentage of their students love learning. Globally our education ranking is far from the top. We need to inspire our children to love learning too.
Learning is for life!
How do we instil this in our students? Firstly, I believe we should stop and reflect on our own experiences with learning and then start modelling positive behaviour around the education of our children.
Education is most certainly an investment in the future. Government money is only part of the answer.
What we need is a change in attitude that doesn’t require money. We need people of all ages and from all walks of life to stop and think about education.
At every opportunity we need to paint positivity around the benefits of a sound education. For me the benefits are immeasurable and include things such as empowerment, increased wellbeing; increased participation in the community; better health outcomes; employment opportunities and economic stability. It is through learning that we have the potential to become the smarter nation we somehow already profess to be.
Largely, good learning outcomes can be attributed to the excellence of our educators. Each of us can reflect on teachers who have left an indelible mark on our school days, some for the better and others not-so.
There is however a joint responsibility. Parents and the wider community have a social responsibility to be part of each child’s learning. Not only can most of us reflect on teachers who may have inspired us but there are many moments in our lives where family, friends and community has influenced us in choices we have made.
So, do you know your child’s teachers?
Don’t leave it until parent-teacher interview night to find out, start a conversation now.
Build a sound relationship with the people who will spend a large chunk of time with your child/ren. Research has shown that for some families, the combined amount of time teachers spend with their kids will be more than the time they actually do. Thought provoking!
That is why I would encourage you to meet your child’s teacher sooner rather than later. In doing so, thank them for their efforts and for the encouragement they give to your daughter or son.
Don’t stop there though. Make a firm commitment to build that relationship and to share the responsibility for your child’s future.
Zachary Jeans wrote “Great leaders don't force their people to drink; they inspire them to be thirsty”.
I believe great educators don’t force their students to learn, they inspire them to be thirsty for knowledge!”
You too can be part of that inspiration.