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Here we go again!

Media release
from Parent.org
for immediate release

Here we go again!

“Last year it was obesity, this year it is values, what will it be next year – toilet training?” Parent.org's spokesperson expressed his frustration at the Ministry of Education's announcement that it would begin teaching values because parents are failing to teach them at home.

“If, as the Ministry claims, children are not learning values at home then surely the first thing we should do is give our the parents the skills and motivation to teach them, before we lumber another parenting duty on teachers. Teachers have our kids for 30 hours a week, and have to fit a lot in in that time. The other 138 hours they are in the care of parents who can easily undo values education if no one has bothered to give them the knowledge and skills to support this teaching.”

The lobbying group absolutely supports the teaching of values as a core skill to being a citizen but is frustrated that the duty has been publicly taken from parents before any attempt was made to improve parenting skills.

“If we bothered to give our parents the skills and passion to raise children who had good values then not only would we not have to teach them at school but the education experience would be transformed for both students and teachers. I can't imagine a teacher who would not love to have a classroom filled with children who are respectful, courteous, fair and ambitious. To get those kids we need more skilled parents, not overworked teachers."

“There is a real danger in these annual broad condemnations of parents,” said Mr. Gore. “Every time a parenting responsibility is publicly given to another group parents become little more disconnected and disillusioned with their role. This initiative sends a message to parents – “Don't bother instilling values in your children because our teachers, who we have made the effort to skill in this area, will do it for you. Parents who are struggling may ask themselves –why bother? Someone else will raise my child for me.”
The group is also concerned that this initiative is doomed to fail. Teaching values is not not like teaching math. Values are instilled rather than taught through role modeling, use of examples and so forth. You can't sit a child down for his “excellence” or “fairness” module and have any expectation that the learning will translate into long term good behaviour, especially if it is not supported at home. Values is instilled by praising behaviour that supports the values (like doing homework well), condemning behaviour that exhibits poor values (like cheating in games) and so forth. It takes years because values offer few quick rewards, and sometimes even punishment - if not cheating means I lose then teaching me to play fair is not easy. To achieve this you can't replace a caring patient parent with an hour or two in a classroom.

Teachers get a minimum of three years of training to spend 30 hours a week with children, imparting skills and the desire to learn and grow. Parents are entitled to just eight Wellchild visits with a Plunket nurse, maybe five hours tops. They only get more skills offered to them when they are actively seen to be failing and putting their children at risk, meaning that most parent education is currently associated with mitigating failure, not promoting success.

“We are simply being naïve to expect parents to do a good job when we make so little effort to ensure they have the skills and passion to succeed, and the fact that so many do this frustrating undervalued job so well is a testament to their own parents raising them to be ambitious for success.

The group calls for more recognition of the role of parents in society and a shift in their environment from failure to success, and it could start with a program to teach parents how to instill values. The group claims that our failure to support and resource parents is the single biggest barrier to social harmony and economic prosperity.


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