Education: A Collaborative Partnership
By Dr. David Perkins Wolf Point Superintendent of Schools
Everyone in the community is impacted by the success of our schools. Our quality of life as a society is determined by the ability of our workers to produce quality products. Our world is so interconnected that competition is worldwide. Our students must have competitive skills in subjects like math, science and technology. Workers must be able to problem solve and think creatively. With countries like China and North Korea on the rise, our financial status and security is at stake. As a community and a country, we must provide a quality education for our children to secure their future.
Education is a triangle between the student, the parent and the school. In addition, the community is also a partner.
Families are one of the biggest factors in student success. Parents must be active in their children’s learning. Rarely does a student rise to his potential without at least one active supportive parent or guardian. Parents support students by helping with homework at times, but not doing the homework.
Students need to have accountability at home and at school. Children watch and copy their parents. If children see parents study and strive for excellence, they will also. While we live in an overly busy society, good parents also provide support by following the activities of their child.
Students must take responsibility for their own education as they grow up. Our children are the greatest beneficiaries of learning. They have the most to gain or lose. Students must make an effort to learn, which includes completing homework and going the extra mile on assignments. Priorities need to be set. School is their job.
As educators, we must understand that we teach children, not subjects. It is so much more than teaching a mere subject.
I had a conversation with an eighth grade teacher who wore a badge for a high failure rate many years ago. He was teaching a subject — social studies. He was sporting about a 70 percent failure rate, and proud of it. Students were not doing his work. So, he gave them zeros. He admitted the students did not learn the material. He said, “I’m teaching them responsibility.” That would have been true if the students had learned and started passing. Unfortunately, they failed day after day, and week after week. He finally admitted that he had not taught them anything, to which I disagreed. He taught them how to avoid doing his work. Furthermore, we were creating dropouts as a school.
Master teachers find solutions around obstacles that seem beyond their control. It is easy to place blame; however, it is more productive to find a way around the problems. Sometimes, that means forcing students to complete work and learn, even if it is late.
The ultimate goal is learning. Students do not always get to the goal the same way. Teachers need parental support to do this. For some students, it means carrying them until they wake up and realize what education can do for them. If educators give students the skills in spite of themselves, the students remain in the game. Creating dropouts is the alternative, which is unacceptable.
Education involves more than just knowledge. We must build
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character and morals at the same time we develop thinking skills. In our areas of influence, whether it is in the home, church, school or the community, we must build knowledge and character. If we have integrity and character, our children have a better chance to do the same.
Educators must engage the parents and the students to find a path forward that works. Good communication is essential to prevent failure and create success. Education is a partnership. All parties must step up to the plate to create success.
As a society, we need to be hungry for knowledge. We must value education. We cannot afford to rest upon our past successes as a country. We must actively find ways to improve the learning environment and instruction. Collaboration between the student, parent and teacher is one step in that direction.
In Wolf Point, we are fortunate because we have many organizations that also support the school and our students. We intend to work with these organizations to leverage a better future for the children of Wolf Point.