“Given the demands that we currently place on our educators, I caution that we do not impose additional responsibilities on them” (Don’t Overburden Teachers, Mr. Paulin Tay Straughan).
Mr. Paulin Tay Straughan, in his letter “Don’t Overburden Teachers” (July 2, 2011), excellently and succinctly reminds Singaporeans of the tremendous and overwhelming responsibilities shoved upon the shoulders of educators in Singapore. Even though the primary role of the teacher is to impart knowledge effectively and efficiently to their students, they are increasingly inundated by demands to oversee co-curricular activities, facilitate their students’ character developments, be constantly cognisant of the students’ well-being physically and psychologically et cetera. While it is true that changing circumstances within the education system dictates the teacher to go beyond traditional teaching-learning mechanisms, it is equally imperative for parents to play a more hands-on and complementary role in the education of their children.
The importance of parents in the entire education process cannot be understated; in fact, how families interact with and teach their children in the latter’s preschool formative years sets an important foundation for their teachers to later constructively build upon. Aspects such as language education, moral values, physical and sports improvement, as well as personality growth are key factors that parents should not neglect; subsequently, they can ill-afford to wash their hands of these affairs even after their kid has entered school. The maintenance of a complementary relationship between teachers and parents are absolutely paramount; both parties should be consistently ready to tweak their approaches to help the student progress academically and emotionally.
Unfortunately, the aforementioned interactions seem to be painfully limited to parent-teacher gatherings, where the emphases are often premised solely upon examination results, grade-rankings, or serious behaviour transgressions. For productivity to be maximised, there must be increased channels and ways to help the students grow holistically – including mental health education – in school and back at home.
First, the scope of parent-teacher meetings should be comprehensively expanded to include discussions and evaluations on the student’s non-academic performances. Parents, and vice versa for teachers in schools, should be proactively involved in conversations on how to customise at-home strategies for their children. Second, schools – together with the Ministry of Education (MOE) – can provide free resources and online materials for parental education on varying themes, including preschool education. This could be coupled with subsidised talks from counsellors and related professionals revolving around communication, engagement, so on and so forth. Last but not least, parents themselves can gather independently to discuss different concerns, and cohesively work out solutions to common struggles or problems with education at home.
Education cannot be executed by schools and their corresponding teachers per se; involvement from all stakeholders will significantly reduce the workload, and heighten the quality of education offered to the students.
A version of this article was published in TODAY.