Good Teachers Reinforce Desirable Values Learnt at Home

Education begins in the home. Simply put, a good parent lays the groundwork for their children to become valued members of society, and to lead a happy and fulfilling life. Initially, parents or other family members help young children learn to communicate, to become increasingly independent, and to learn about the world around them, and their place in it.

A loving family will try to instil desirable values and characteristics in their children. These include honesty, curiosity and a love for learning, as well as ambition coupled with a strong work ethic. Parents or guardians must encourage children to take responsibility for their own actions, and accept consequences. They will teach their children good manners and how to behave appropriately in different settings. Good parents also seek to develop kindness, co-operation, and raise a public-minded person.

Ideally, these values are reinforced and extended in the school context. School Teachers aim to transform their pupils into good learners and teach them specific knowledge, but that is only one part of their job. They also teach their pupils how to become good citizens, and prepare them for life as a well-adjusted adult.

Like parents, they must model the behaviour they want to see, set boundaries, and clearly explain the consequences of particular actions. Good behaviour and work should be acknowledged, and bad behaviour addressed each time it occurs. Rewards and acknowledgement build self-esteem and encourage students to engage in positive behaviour, as well as to improve their academic abilities. Punishment sends the message that boundaries and the teacher’s authority are to be respected.

Critics of the punishment and reward system argue that it teaches children and teens to engage in certain behaviours and avoid others purely because they wish to avoid punishment and obtain rewards. While this may be true to a certain extent, a good educator also explains why certain behaviours are good or bad, and the effects they have on others. They may explain that people who are polite and kind are more likely to make friends than those who are rude, for example.

Ineffective teachers rely heavily on intimidation and fear to make their students behave or complete academic tasks. This may work in the short-term but is unlikely to foster positive behaviour in the long-term. Indeed, students exposed to such behaviour may struggle with self-esteem or act aggressively towards others, and may disengage from learning. A student’s attitude towards a particular subject is often influenced by how their instructor interacts with them on a personal and professional level. Effective teachers treat students with respect and compassion and make learning stimulating and enjoyable. They are more likely to help students become respectful, compassionate, and independent learners.

Glenn Lawrie, a high school teacher and friend of mine, noticed that one particular student with a mental disability had difficulty making friends. Her classmates kept their distance because they had marked her out as “different.” She sat alone at break times until Glenn decided to help her classmates see that she was a person worth knowing. He would share his lunch with her, and they would practice English together, and she built up her skills. The other pupils wanted in on this, because Glenn would often share a sweet treat with the girl. However, the students soon started to include her in activities of their own accord, and noticed she was quite smart. Glenn taught his pupils the value of tolerance and acceptance by being a role model and it worked!

Education is a Shared Responsibility

Developing a child’s character is a huge task, and is not only the teacher’s responsibility. Today’s teachers often face criticism from parents for failing to discipline children or influence their behaviour outside school hours. In some cases, the complaints may be justified, but in others, parents may need to examine what they are teaching their children. They need to set boundaries, reward their children for respecting them, and discipline them when they don’t. Guardians and p[arents are role models, as well as teachers

School Teachers find imparting knowledge to be an uphill battle if they constantly have to deal with students who haven’t experienced set boundaries, and who haven’t been taught respect for authority. Many educators encounter families who expect the School to take full responsibility for their child’s development. However, education is a shared responsibility. To be most effective, parents need to reinforce values learnt at school. Want your kid to be a reader?  Find books that spark their interest and encourage reading at home! It takes a lot of work to produce a well-educated individual. Parents and teachers need to support and complement one another in this endeavour.     

About the Author

PhD in European Languages and Cultures (specialising in Literary Translation) Department of International Studies Macquarie University