Mike's Minute: Stop accusing parents of not taking school seriously

Author
Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Fri, 21 Feb 2020, 9:39AM

Mike's Minute: Stop accusing parents of not taking school seriously

Author
Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Fri, 21 Feb 2020, 9:39AM

If our kids aren't at school on a Friday or Monday, and if 20 percent of them missed the last day of term, is that a problem? 

Well yes, and no. There is concern, and the Ministry of Education is telling us to take school seriously. They got stats from almost 2200 schools in term two of last year, and all the absences were shown to be going up.

Having had five, count them five kids at school, one still remains, the last two have literally just left, here's what I know, by the time you get to Year 13, a lot of kids teach themselves, and they do that at home. They come to the conclusion, especially the achievers that what goes on in the classroom is wasteful, and they're more productive doing it themselves.

Not all, of course, but many. And they will qualify as absent. But that’s only part of the story.

Yes, kids go early for holidays. Yes, many parents take their kids out for three weeks instead of two because they're going long haul on holiday. Yes, parents drag their kids out in an odd week because the holiday package to the islands is cheaper.

I am guilty of this, most of us are guilty of this. But that doesn't mean we are not taking school seriously.

Further, all parents will know this, when we started school this year, as we do every year, the first week isn't a week. It's about two days and they're half days, or days in which sport is played, or house parades are practiced. Then we have a short week followed by Waitangi Day, followed by a teacher only day. Teacher only days you might note, are often connected to long weekends.

Is that not the teacher doing exactly what the parent does? Further the school year, compared to any other year in any office, factory, or business is ludicrously short, the template is set.

If school was to be taken seriously, and look at the Asian countries, or the charter schools in places like America, it would be open a hell of a lot more than it is.

Believe me, I do hesitate to say all this because I have enormous respect for teachers. They get paid crap to do an increasingly arduous job, given the social malaise that wanders through their gates these days.

But to be honest, you could tidy up the school day, week, term, or year in an instant with a massive dose of efficiency. There is a lot of faffing about that goes on in schools.

Of course, the counter argument is given the school year is so short, why do parents need even more time? It's not a bad argument.

But Tracey Martin, the Minister's response to all this was, if your child is not there, they could be missing something critical.

Well with five kids, three completing 13 years, 1 completing 12, and one nine years in, that’s 60-odd years of combined learning. And guess what? The world hasn’t ended for any of them.