Parents Must Team With Schools To Improve Learning

“Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child. The rod of correction will drive it far from him.” (Proverbs 22:15)

A study commissioned several years ago by the National Association of Manufacturers reported that half of the employees in U.S. manufacturing plants lack the basic reading, writing, and math skills. Of the 4,500 manufacturers surveyed, 60% said their current workers lack basic math skills, and 55% said their workers have “serious deficiencies” in basic writing and comprehension skills.

Earnest W. Davenport, chairman of the manufacturers group that sponsored the survey, was obviously disappointed. “The shortage of skilled employees is not a distant threat anymore. The skills gap is now catching up to us and could threaten the amazing growth and productivity gains of the past decade.”

In the 1970’s, Newsweek Magazine proclaimed on one of its covers, “Learning Can Be Fun”. Just a few years later, they devoted one of their cover stories to the question, “Why Johnny Can’t Write.”

Dr. James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family, wrote the senior editor of Newsweek after he read the second article and suggested that there might link between the two stories. “Perhaps Johnny couldn’t write because he spent too much time having fun in the classroom,” he told the editor.

A former superintendent of instruction in California made this observation: “To say that children have an innate love of learning is as muddleheaded as saying that children have an innate love of baseball. Some do. Some don’t. Left to themselves, a large percentage of the small fry will go fishing, pick a fight, tease the girls, or watch Superman on the boob tube. Even as you and I.”

It’s hard to take exception with that observation. The fact is most students will not put one more ounce of effort in their studies than the system requires. Obviously, the structure and discipline must be in place to produce the required behavior.

The problem with our school system is the anti-disciplinarians have had their way too long. Despite how most of us feel, rules governing student conduct have been diluted, not strengthened. In fact, it’s the teachers and principals whose hands seemed to be tied. And when they do try to enforce the rules, parents become so militant in their reactions that it’s just easier for them to look the other way.

Schools systems across the country are waking up. Many have adopted dress codes that establish standards of reasonableness and outlaw t-shirts with profanity and any clothing that is sexually suggestive. In fact, several schools here in our own community have adopted dress codes that require uniforms.
It’s easy to blame our schools for what’s happening to children. But what goes on in the classroom cannot be separated from the problems occurring in our own homes. We, too, have turned our backs on God’s advice.

A high school teacher recently polled 300 teenagers. She asked them one question: “What advice would you give your mom and dad?” As I read some of their answers, I realized that a great deal of the advice that they offered is found in God’s Word:

1. “Don’t let small kids watch a lot of TV. If you do, they will adopt the bad attitudes seen on TV and end up not respecting you.” (Proverbs 19:15)
2. “Don’t curse or smoke unless you want your children to do the same.” (Proverbs 22:6)
3. “Be consistent in what you say; follow through with your decision.” (Matthew 5:37)
4. “Look for things that are good about your children instead of constantly finding ways to put them down.” (Colossians 3:21)
5. “Guide your children toward good marriages by giving them a good example to follow.” (Hebrews 13:4)

The problems that plague our schools are not going to be solved by our school system, but they can be solved in our homes. And isn’t it interesting that the only lasting solutions to those problems are found in the one Book that is no longer welcome in our schools?

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