I have been reflecting lately on the task of the teacher and how it has changed in the last 40 years. The most dramatic change in that time has been the growing instability of the family. I recognise that the family has always been a volatile place but its volatility has increased markedly.
Let me put my reflection succinctly: unless the child is remarkable, children’s education is radically affected, in a negative manner, the greater the instability at home. If the home is a place of tension, anger, argument and uncertainty, the child’s ability to concentrate at school is adversely affected. There are some children who make a conscious decision to put home strife behind them and work hard at school. However, the vast majority of children do not have the maturity or emotional stamina to achieve that aim.
My challenge is simple ( some may say simplistic) yet profound. Adults in charge of children must seriously consider the atmosphere of the home if they wish their children to succeed at school. Adults are the adults. They have the responsibility, beyond their own desires and grievances, to ensure a harmonious well ordered house for the emotional, and I would add, spiritual, well being of the household.
In one place I was teaching, the staff spoke of “second generation disaffection with school”. To put it simply, disfuctional undereducated people were raising the next generation of disfunctional even more uneducated and unprepared children.
My plea: Those of us in charge of children have a huge responsibility for these young minds and souls. The way we structure and order our homes is important. Life has enough trauma with the unexpected events that life throws at us. The home should be a secure oasis: a place of refuge and comfort – not a battlefield.
With hindsight parents often remark how few years their children were at home and at school. These years seem to go so quickly. Parents and guardians do not have the luxury for petulant self obsession. Their responsibility is to the young minds and hearts in their care. The child’s future and future welfare depends on it.