Lori Falce: Should parents lead curriculum?

If the pandemic has taught me anything, it’s that I’m not a teacher.

Having my son home at the end of sixth and seventh grade made me appreciate the teachers. I thought I had appreciated them beforehand. I was wrong.

I mean, yeah, I was glad they were there doing a job I didn’t want to do – much like I’m glad other people are doing jobs I don’t want to do like snow plowing and building houses and studying science fission . But I didn’t really understand the work itself.

And that is the essence of the word “appreciate”. It’s not just about gratitude. It also requires understanding.

I knew my son and his ADHD diagnosis made it challenging to keep his attention. Hey, I’m trying to get him to clean his room. I get it. nope I didn’t get it – not quite. I didn’t realize how soul-sapping it is to focus your attention on a task for 40 minutes when you have absolutely no interest in the 100-year war. And I only had one of his – not 25 other kids who would rather play Nintendo too.

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I’ve said for years that I would never homeschool because I wanted my son to learn math — and there was no way he would if I taught. I was half right. He was studying math while I sat gaping, confused by his understanding of what seemed like a nightmare where I couldn’t understand the language. Because I couldn’t.

I often think of this moment when I read about parental protests against education, with terms like “parent-led” and “parent-controlled.”

Dear God, don’t make me make decisions about my son’s math curriculum. I’m totally unqualified. In a world where I make mathematical decisions, your taxes will be audited every year and your checking account balance will always be a crap. But I understand this limitation.

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I fear what will happen when parents, who may not understand the material, make decisions about what children – not just their children, but an entire district of children – are learning based on questionable sources.

The ban on books from libraries is one of them. Likewise, the ban on books that are studied in class. But there is also the perception that things are “taught” in the classroom or that a curriculum is in place, although this is far from the truth.

It’s all becoming a “keep hitting your wife” question for districts asked to justify their curriculum to committees that insist a book in the library equates to an indoctrination program. My son recently pulled Stephen King’s It from his school library. I’m kind of confident that no one is trying to turn him into an evil clown.

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But the educators still come to the school. They are still teaching children while being vilified as seditious. They still teach children, although now it seems they care about the attention span of the parents as much as they do the students. And that’s something I didn’t really appreciate before.

i do now I feel gratitude and understanding. And I just hope our schools get through this because I’m still not ready to teach my son math.

Lori Falce is the community engagement editor at Tribune-Review. You can contact Lori at [email protected]

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