Education is not social engineering

This week’s post tackles the interesting topic of what do schools really exist for?

This week I saw an interesting news item that said that a North Sydney (New South Wales, Australia) school has decided to tackle unhealthy food by doing a lunchbox inspection. If you do not believe me you can view the article here.  As you can see the article it states “if a teacher spots a chocolate bar or a packet of chips in student’s lunchbox, they will confront the parents and “recommend healthy alternatives””.

Here is what I do not get, what right to teachers have to tell other parents had apparently children? Is this really what we expect from our education environment?

I asked these questions at a time when there is debate around what the school curriculum should contain what school children should be taught. Also, when we view a large majority of indexes, our schools -in my view- are failing to prepare students for the future. By that I mean students graduating high school with low literacy language and numeracy skills. This is become such a prevalent issue in the outer location domain that the Certificate IV in Training and Evaluation (the minimum requirement for teaching in the adult vocational education sector) now requires a compulsory unit of language, literacy, and numeracy (LLN) so instructors are able to identify those with limited LLN skills and develop strategies to assist the student in the journey.

Now, I accept that there are some people who have limited LLN skills that may come from not being English as first language speakers. But, I have worked in the adult education sector for almost 14 years and I have seen a rapid decline in students’ skills in LLN. So, I was bemused and frustrated with saying that schools have decided to police lunchboxes. Perhaps the time is better spent correcting work and providing feedback to the students.

Finally as a parent, I would not be very impressed with some school teacher told me how to feed/parent my child. What I choose to feed, or not feed, my children is no one else’s business but mine as long as my children are healthy, well fed, and actively engaged in their learning. The role of the teacher is to assist in the last of the list, that is actively engage my child in learning.

It is time that we got back to understanding that schools are about education and not social engineering.

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