Trinity College School

The "More Factor"

I am a parent of three kids. I have also been involved professionally in education for over 30 years at four different schools. Like most of you, I have seen a host of changes in education and parenting over the last three decades. And I truly believe the vast majority of changes have benefitted kids. I see parents having closer relationships with their children and I see teachers doing more for their students. And, the effect, at least from my perspective at TCS, is that kids are generally better citizens than during my time in school as a student.

I believe the reasons for this “evolution” are numerous. In my opinion, one factor in particular that has contributed to this trend is the higher level of care and support available to children. I call it “The More Factor.” In short, the adults in a kid's life are simply doing “more.” Yes, parents are now working longer hours, commuting greater distances and/or travelling across the globe due to increased competition. (And, like their offspring, are sometimes too closely tied to their cell phone.) That said, these extra efforts by parents are most often aimed at providing the best possible opportunities for their children.

Educators, too, have “more” to do. Not too long ago, the purpose of schools was somewhat limited to the teaching of the “Three R’s”: reading, writing and arithmetic. This view of a school’s responsibility later evolved and expanded, to include the preparation of individuals to live as contributing members of a society (the concept of “good citizenship”). Add to that list, in more recent years, education in relation to job preparation, personal growth and improvement, and the development of social and moral responsibility.

Teachers today are also expected to develop critical thinking skills in their students; use a host of different teaching techniques (“differentiated instruction”); incorporate technology into the classroom (post online course outlines, notes and generally “be available”); lead and supervise service learning opportunities, arts and athletics. It is also a responsibility, at TCS, to do duty in the house, provide academic assistance daily and oversee a group of advisees. And, yes, there is a very real commitment related to the fact that teachers in our boarding community are regarded by many kids as de facto mentors, tutors, counsellors, and yes, parents.

The challenge is, in our desire to do “more” for our kids, we risk becoming stretched too thin. Increasingly, schools are being asked to assume greater levels of responsibility for student development, with an ever-widening array of skills or areas of social growth being expected of schools (for example, teaching cooking, cleaning and laundry skills). Everything from cell phone habits to attaining a driver’s license are believed, by some, to be the responsibility of schools. The list continues to grow…

So while we are 100% committed at TCS to our students’ overall learning and development (as I often say, we “work harder and care more”), one can also recognize that while our responsibilities have increased, the number of minutes in a day have not!

The fact that parents and teachers are doing more is not new news nor fake news; in fact, increased expectations placed on both are, at times, seemingly unsustainable. However, before we start to unanimously agree with one another that the impact of this “more” culture is not healthy for parents, teachers, children and students, I think that we need to acknowledge that it is at least working in one crucial respect: kids are generally nicer. Kinder, more respectful, more aware, more open to different views and ideas.

So, mom, dad, faculty, staff: thank you. Thank you for all of your extra efforts. It is paying off.

Comments

Thank you indeed! I think the partnership is outstanding!

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