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Rants and Raves

Who is dumber? Thoughts on the notice from school
by Hiromi

“Student-led Conferences” are coming up at my kids’ elementary school. If it sounds unfamiliar to you, this is what we do: parents visit the classrooms; kids show their work—journals, art projects, and such; we compliment their efforts and chit-chat with teachers. It’s a casual meeting that takes only fifteen minutes.

But this year, the school issued a page full of list, “SUGGESTIONS FOR PARENTS BEFORE CONFERENCES.” And this is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard.

The list claims that it “will help ensure a successful experience for you and your child.” I’m already suspicious. I even feel danger, especially in “ensure.” The list is meticulously categorised into three parts—A. Before the Conference, B. During the Conference, and C. At the Closing of the Conference.

A1: Make this a time when your child has your undivided attention—no siblings please.

The underline! I’m disgusted. Most students have siblings, some as young as toddlers and babies, and the school knows that. Should we parents hire a babysitter or arrange childcare voluntarily? Talk about inconsideration. Not practical at all. The word “undivided attention” is so textbook-perfect that it makes me ill. What’s wrong with taking brothers and sisters and making it a family affair? I’m already fuming, but this is only a start.

A2: Sit on the same side of the table as your child.

Wait. I thought we were grownups, not five-year-olds. Do we need to be told where to sit?

This is nuts. Now, let’s fast forward to B section.

B1: Focus on the positives.
B2: SMILE!

Capital letters! With an exclamation mark! They want to enforce the facial expressions! Ugh! NOOOOO! NEVERRRR!

B5: Employ active listening skills.
a. Use eye contact.
b. Maintain positive body language.
c. Listen attentively.
d. Paraphrase.

What does that mean exactly? Do I have to stare at my kid? How long? “Positive” means grinning like an idiot? If I keep nodding, is that “attentive”?

The list goes on, but I can’t go any further. A sense of hopelessness comes over me. I would never ever understand the person who talks this language. We are a-million-light-years apart.

Back off, school officials!

I’m sick of their self-righteousness. Burn those how-to-run-everything-according-to-us books. We, parents, do have common sense. We might not have Education Expert badges on, but we are not dumb, either! Most definitely we are able to handle the fifteen-minute conference without the “suggestions.” So shove it. Leave me alone!

I thought about boycotting the conference. But no, I can’t let down my kids. So I’ll go to my second grader’s classroom with his sister and my neighbour’s four-year-old (voluntary child care). I ignore section C’s “share two compliments before one area for improvement”, and we sit together, hail, and praise him like hell until he begs me to stop. I might get detention, but who cares?