Jim Morrison nailed it: ‘People are strange’. And there’s not much stranger than families. Big, medium, small, tiny, diverse, close, scattered, eccentric, bizarre, dysfunctional, ordered, chaotic, loving, happy, sad, normal, odd, supportive, uncaring, awful. Each family is one of a kind. From the perspective of the school, the role of the family is to create a good home background. Schools want families who care for their children emotionally and physically. Parents or carers who support learning, help teach and reinforce boundaries, encourage independence, take an interest. It’s lovely when schools go further, actively involving extended families in their mission. But those basics are the foundation stone.
Of course, there are families that are dysfunctional, or worse. When you have children (or foster/adopt them) you don’t change overnight. You are what you were before, plus kids. That’s why you can’t tell people how to parent, although you can show them what works best. When that tiny baby roars the very first cry, surely every parent thinks ‘I will do what I can, within my powers, to make your life the best it can be.’ But you are not transformed into a different version of yourself when you become a parent. If family life was difficult before children, it certainly does not become easier after.
Schools have to deal with families – all different kinds of families – the children don’t come out of a vacuum. Schools often have to be there to pick up the pieces, to re-balance the wobbly, to challenge the lazy, to support those who are in dire straits. Most families genuinely want to help schools educate their children. Those that don’t … well, what else can you do but try? Schools should be like an extended family, deeply rooted in a place, somewhere that children can feel safe and happy, part of a community of learning. A place where kids feel like skipping down the corridor, and singing … ‘We are Family’.
For the November #blogsync ‘What is the role of the family in young people’s education?’