I just finished reading a terrific interview with French author and teacher Daniel Pennac. I’m also currently reading his book School Blues (or Chagrin d’ecole) that was recently translated into English. This is the follow-up to his critically acclaimed The Rights of the Reader.
It is neither the purpose of this post to either review or retell the story of School Blues. There is a terrific review of the book by The Guardian book reviewer, Michael Rosen for that. And indeed, if you are a parent or educator this is a must read.
But during one of Pennac’s discussion of how the outcast, the cancre, becomes and remains alienated from public education and learning, he notes that the “fear of school can extend to parents”.
I actually see the opposite as the reversal of influence. In many cases, students struggling with school early on in their educational career look to their parents for advice (and in not always overt ways either) on how to deal with the stress of failure and an inability to get a into school.
But, the fact is that many parents are unable to provide that adequate sense of emotional support. Many of them still subconsciously cling to personal past histories of revolving around their own fears of school. Suck it up, Johnny. I had it rough, too, but I turned out OK. Oh, I was never any good at science. I hated math. Just hang in there, it gets better. The sour memories of these parents only serve to instill the same distaste and mistrust of school in their children in which they were educated. My gym teacher was mean. I never liked to read. I don’t miss school at all and I’m so glad I never have to go back. And on and on.
So, how can any education system compete with support like that?
Pretty tough, I think.
Sure, there are a lots of reasons why many parents distrust the education system, unable or unwilling to support their children. But I also think that it’s fair to say that NO ONE would ever acknowledge or argue that the public education system is obsolete. Not yet.