Various education technology agencies are not taking a deeper look at how alert parents can leverage the power of the Internet. It is becoming increasingly evident that a disconcerting proportion of parents of school-going children remain invisible to the school’s teachers. They make contact only when absolutely required, oblivious to the fact schools require active parent involvement and support to do the best job possible in educating and moulding their children.
Does being a good parent to a school-going child end at the school gates? In a less technologically evolved age, that may have been true. Paradoxically, however, Internet-savvy parents do use their online skills regularly to stay in touch with their friends and families, business contacts and the stock market. The fact is, our children are the most significant investments we make in our lives. It makes sense to track and manage the health and soundness of their school lives as diligently as we do our bank balances, stock portfolios and other relationships.
Disturbingly, the roots of this problem seem to extend beyond lack of awareness. Surveys into this issue indicate that many otherwise good parents of school-going children actually do not have the required confidence to engage their kids’ teachers at such a level. Conversely, they do not have the same hang-ups when it comes to confidently engaging business contacts about whom they know very little. (To be fair, the problem does not lie with such parents alone – many schools worry about dealing with difficult parents and project a subtle image of non-approachability). Other parents hesitate to contact their children’s school teachers because they are worried about imposing and adding to their burdens, thereby creating problems for their children at school.
However, the fact is that information technology has given us the means to be more informed about our children’s education, their performance in the school’s social milieu and their overall development as evolving adults. Thankfully, both parents and teachers are now beginning to recognize that a free flow of information is vital in the effective dispensing of teacher and parent-related functions. The resources to facilitate open, uninhibited discussion between parents and teachers have evolved beyond mere chats and emails. Parent-teacher networking sites have now made it possible to create open, transparent forums for increased parent involvement that additionally provide valuable resources. These resources include updates on school activities, blogs that address specific parent and teacher issues, and a comprehensive record of how the child is faring on all fronts.
When teachers share with parents what transpires inside classrooms, the quality of learning takes a quantum leap forward. Using the available electronic means to stay in contact and exchange information also vastly improves the quality and ease of parent teacher interactions during personal encounters at local PTA meetings. This is because parent teacher networking platforms allow parents to resolve their more pressing queries prior to such one-on-one meetings. Teachers come across as more human, and normally inhibited parents have the means to involve themselves in their child’s school life at a more comfortable level.
By Arun Chitnis