The Case Of The Missing Assignment Or Too Much Information

Last week I heard on NPR that in some elementary schools in the US parents are notified by email if their child fails to submit even one assignment.  In high schools parents get on-going notices of all the different deadlines regarding their children’s college applications, so that they could make sure their children do not to miss them.

It is true that the school has all that data on hand and it is very easy to share it with the parents. Also teachers and schools are judged by their students’ performance and they are very willing to recruit the parents to help improve it.  It could even  be  possible that  the parents themselves request, or put pressure on the school to give them all that information.

I believe that when a child fails to submit an assignment, it is the teacher’s  job to find out why and to work together with the child to find a way to fix it. Involving the parents in such minute details of the child’s school work is an overkill and would not necessarily bring about the desired outcomes.

Teachers should not expect parents to do the work for them, and  resist the temptation to involve the parents unless they deal with a recurring problem which they cannot solve on their own.

At home parents should demonstrate to the children their confidence in the teachers’ abilities and encourage them to cooperate with their teachers.

A mother who was interviewed for that NPR program admitted that growing up she was solely responsible for her school work and her parents trusted her to do so. However, in today’s competitive environment  the stakes are too high and, to make sure that her son has a good chance to succeed,  she does not feel that she could leave it up to him.

Her pressure is understandable, but  I can imagine that growing up with the knowledge that her  parents trusted her was not only significant when she was a child,  but it also  enabled  her to become a successful adult.  In contrast, by taking away that same responsibility from her child doesn’t she deprive him of that feeling of trust, and weaken him?

I once heard a lecture by the Israeli art Historian Ran Shchori  about Fascist architecture. He explained that the purpose of the long wide open roads which characterized Fascists’ city planning, was to make the individual feel as though he/she had nowhere to hide. Those exposed boulevards also contributed to a feeling of insignificance.

I cannot help thinking that a child, whose parents are notified about everything which goes on in school, experiences similar feelings.

We should be careful not to make our children feel insignificant. Everyone, even small children, deserves a hiding place. Since we all want the best for our children, it is important for the parents to realize that missing assignments, and even college applications, are just the beginning of life, full of deadlines and thankless tasks, which awaits the grown children. If we let them have a certain degree of privacy and teach them to assume responsibility today, they will have a better chance to deal with those challenges tomorrow.

About the Author
I have a PhD in English literature from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and I usually write about issues concerning women, literature, culture and society. I lived in the US for 15 years (between 1979-1994). I am widow and in March 2016 started a support/growth Facebook group for widows: "Widows Move On." In October 2017 I started a Facebook group for Older and Experienced Feminists. I am also an active member of Women Wage Peace and believe that women can succeed where men have failed.