Friday 14 September 2012

Standing firm against unreasonable demands on teachers

By Stacey Chia, The Straits Times, 13 Sep 2012

THE mother who complained to the police about a teacher who cut her son's hair was held up yesterday as an example of what educators have to put up with these days.

In his Work Plan Seminar keynote speech, Education Minister Heng Swee Keat said such incidents are the reason teachers "often feel anxious about dealing with demanding parents".

"I recently had a father who came to see me. He began his comments with a string of expletives about the teachers in his son's school," said Mr Heng to the crowd of 1,009 principals and educators at Ngee Ann Polytechnic Convention Centre.

"I told him that if he wanted us to help him, he must first help himself. There is absolutely no reason and no excuse for bad behaviour," he said.

"We must take a firm stand against unreasonable demands."

To improve parent-teacher relations and help mothers and fathers who can use a parenting tip or two, the Education Ministry is going big this year to include parents in its work.

Apart from two funds introduced in April to facilitate parent-school partnerships, a new website was launched yesterday to serve as a resource for educational news, curriculum information and parenting tips.

Mr Heng said that while many parents are "well-meaning", they may not always know what to do when it comes to parenting.

"There is a broad range of parenting styles and a wide range of needs," he said.

The minister gave an example of a father who allowed his three-year-old daughter to pick a place to have dinner each night, as he wanted her to learn about freedom of choice. But when he could not accommodate her one night, she threw a tantrum.

Mr Heng said: "While teaching her, he forgot that freedom to choose must come with respect."

As for the schools, they will be given a "resource pack" that includes examples of how other schools have reached out to parents, alumni and community partners - such as using social media to update them on school events.

Madam Ruby Rasheed, 48, a member of the Parent Support Group at Teck Whye Secondary School, said that parents should try and make the effort to connect with schools.

The housewife joined the group when her daughter entered the school two years ago.

"All parents have worries and concerns and they are mainly education-related, but there are also other teenage issues," she said.
"It's much better to tackle them together with other parents and teachers."


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