24 March 2008

He Who Has the Gold, Makes the Rules

Where do we draw the lines in learning? Can it be determined exactly what the responsibilities of child, parent, and teacher are? And if those of us within education cannot, is it possible that the courts can?

This is what some parents are hoping. In The New Golden Rule, a reporter from Canada's National Post describes several court cases where teachers are being sued either for damage to a child's self-esteem or for failure of a student to learn. Some of the cases, if based on fact, may well show some lack of responsibility at the school level (especially those involving bullying and harassment). What about these kinds of claims?

The teacher hindered the student's learning by...
  • failing to make the child record his first journal entry until two months into the school year.
  • failing to make the child complete a handwriting workbook for the first three months of the school year.
  • failing to provide more challenging work in spelling, reading and comprehension.
  • failing to make the child finish a one-page poem and subsequently displaying the unfinished poem in the school hallway.
  • failing to send a daily homework list home with the student for three weeks, thereby knowingly setting up the son for failure.
Do these kinds of things become a slippery slope type of argument? Is each party in this always responsible for the same amount of effort toward student learning?


Mr. McNamar said...

I wrote satirically about this, but it certainly is a question I've been asking lately.
Hard to believe that rich 'ole Connecticut has underperforming schools, yet I teach at one. We endured the Cambridge Auditors telling us all of the things we do wrong.
The report makes no mention of student failures or parental failure. Instead, it puts the blame squarely on our shoulders.
As I allowed my seniors to view the report and write editorials about it, many are choosing to put the blame on the students or parents while noting that many of our teachers "suck."

The Science Goddess said...

I loved your take on this article.

I am really afraid that the courts will side with the parents on all of this. If bullying/harassment occurred and the teacher and school did not respond, then perhaps they should be responsible for that. As for the other classroom learning---especially in a Montessori situation---one would hope that the teacher acted responsibly.