Globally teaching has changed significantly over the last few decades. Teachers are no more the ones who has all the knowledge, they are more like enablers who partner in learning together.
With data or information or increasingly knowledge being more freely available given the digitization of the content, and consumption on the network – the asymmetry is now gone. So today it is not possible for a teacher to enter the class with all the cards. They should rather focus more on methodology, understanding, co-learning, co-creation, and finally as propounded by many including Sugata Mitra, teachers should be asking the right question.
All these are great developments. Progressive, productive. But this has an impact on an adjacent relationship. What happens at home?
It had been a while that the parents, especially in the affluent sections, are increasingly becoming friendly with the kids. The cane is out, the intrusive enquiries are out, the curiosity about what is going on the lad’s life is out. In fact many are taking it farther. They are giving independence to the children to shape their own life. Including even taking an hands off approach to academics.
So far so good. But then there is a conflict. While the parents have evolved, and the kids have become accustomed to a new way of living, the world outside has not changed as much.
Academics still remains the best insurance of the families for the settled future of the next generation. And the world outside remains uncertain as ever.
So in every parents mind is now a conflict – how do I know what is happening in the life of my kid, without being a snapper?
How is the academics going? How is the attendance? Who are friends? How are the soft skills? How do I know the interests? The passions?
This seems to reach a crescendo specially in the teenager years, when the child stops speaking less at home, and parents become old enough to feel helpless. And social media only adds to the worry. What is he/ she doing on the phone? Who are the connects? I am so worried, but I can’t ask to stop using it. It is so uncool and unreal.
I think this is a space where a partnership between the parent, the teacher will be help. The triangulation of the three will help all to be in the same page, as partners, in a non-threatening way. The passion of the students, the discipline of the educational institution, and love of the parents can do wonders in shaping a balanced future.
How can one do that? Well there are many ways, but I suppose there is still no better way than having an open, candid and transparent Parent Teacher meeting, with the students present.
At Adamas University we have taken this up with passion.
Every three months, by rotation, the parents of the students from three to four schools meet the entire faculty, Chancellor and Vice Chancellor in the University auditorium. The students are also welcome.
The seating is not face to face, rather the teachers mostly sit with the audience. The functional heads, VC and Chancellor takes the questions. Faculties are called in as an when a relevant question is there.
But it is not the meeting per se, but the spirit what matters. No questions are off bound. And there are no pre-set questions. I have seen parents standing up, introducing themselves in reference to their child, and then complaining about the food. Or students talking of how they are not getting enough practical exposure. Or food committee students mentioning they are not being made partners in the decision making.