Despite all the testing, test preparation, new teaching methodologies, and classroom technologies, students continue to fail at an alarming rate. Why? Reasons abound--some more complex than others. But there is at least one simple reason: Students have a difficult time mastering the so called 3R’s (Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic) in a classroom environment because they haven’t learned the real 3R’s (Respect, Responsibility, and Routine) at home.
Students who have no respect for their parents will have none for their teachers. If children don’t listen at home, they will not listen at school. Disrespectful students disrupt classrooms, making it impossible for teachers to teach and other kids to learn.
Students who refuse to accept responsibility for their actions will make excuses and blame everyone and everything for their failures to hand in homework or complete class assignments. “It’s not my fault...” means that it’s someone else’s fault–usually the school’s or teacher’s. These “excuse-students” don't change their negative habits because they see themselves as victims. Worse, they become increasingly angry and resentful towards anyone who insists that they take responsibility for their self-destructive behavior.
Students without an established routine at home lack the internal disciplines and external structures essential for success in any endeavor. They eat dinner when they want to, watch television when they choose to, chat with whomever they wish on twitter and Facebook, go to bed (if at all) when they so desire, and wake up when they are ready. How then can they put in the hours of isolated deliberate practice that are necessary for achievement? Undisciplined students have undisciplined minds which leads to inattentiveness in class.
WHAT TO DO
What must be done? Parents must teach their children the 3R’s at home so that they can learn the 3R’s at school. Teachers can only teach and children can only learn when respect, responsibility, and routine are present both in the living room and the classroom. Nothing else works. Tests, teaching styles, and technologies have no effect unless students have been prepared at home to learn in school. That truth is the proverbial pink elephant in the room that no one wants to talk about, and the problem that no amount of money or innovation can fix.
Parents are the first teachers, and the home is the first school. The hearth is where the heart is shaped and the mind prepared for learning. Parents should take a no nonsense approach to the 3R’s of respect, responsibility, and routine. They should hold their children to the highest standards with a balance of rigid rules and tender love. Kids should learn to listen. Dress codes should be firmly established according to common sense and natural rules of civility. Behinds and bosoms should not be bared on buses. Mouths should be cleansed of bad breath and from dirty words.
DISTRACTIONS ARE DESTRUCTIVE
Kids should not be allowed to fritter away their time on twitter. Parents should know their children’s friends by face and not by Facebook. Ipads, texting, and everything else that distracts should be removed periodically so that children can learn to focus on learning through reading and language instead of videos and images. I know that this sounds revolutionary (or archaic). But good revolutions (including the one that created this nation) begin with common sense. Common sense and civility are what parents learned from their parents and what children so desperately need to learn today. It’s time to bring an “old school” attitude to the new year.
Rev. Vieira is a former high school master teacher, and the founder and president of ScholarSkills Learning Center.