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By: Emang Bokhutlo   (12-09-15)

THE KIDS THEY ARE ALRIGHT: But who is to blame when they lose the plot

Teachers are automatically held responsible if children fail their examinations in school and rightly so too. Of course they are not punished, although sometimes I wish some of  them would be, like my form two maths teacher who often rocked up in class drunk,or the primary school teacher who asked questions in Setswana and beat up pupils who failed to answer in English, but at least they are named and shamed or even warned. Or  so we would want to believe because they are being paid to do a job.

But what about parents? What is their role, shouldn’t they be somehow held responsible too for what their children do or don’t  do in school or is education entirely the school job?
At the beginning of the week a friend I have known almost my entire life  and I struck  a  conversation about a mother’s struggle to maintain a good balance between raising her kids and work. It really got me thinking about the above issues and more!

We started off discussing how a father of four turned down a reasonably paying job offer  because although he needed the money, he was convinced the sacrifice he was going to have to pay both health wise ( The job would require him to be on his feet for hours on end and family( he was going to start around 5 am and knock off around midnight almost on a daily basis) far exceeded the monetary benefits.

At first I was of the opinion that since he desperately  needed the money, (with 4 kids to feed  you would too) perhaps he should have considered the job, but my friend, once a single mother whose sacrifice to build a successful career included long periods of time away from  home, leaving her then adolescent daughter with a maid who couldn’t even assist the poor girl with homework, resulting in  bad grades for the girl and a guilt conscious for the mom,  among other repercussions, put paid to any thoughts that I ever haboured  of encouraging the man to take up the job.

I must admit that being a firm believer that kids must be allowed to be kids and not be forced  to  grow up too fast, I frequently struggle to understand why kids of nowadays need so much help with their homework,or rather why they get so much homework in the first place, especially when they are in preschool, like mine are?
But then again mountains of homework is the least of the responsibilities or the pressures  that preschoolers, not to mention primary school kids deal with  that has left me shaking my head in disbelief.

There’s the pressure to look good, cool and sexy that is among other factors brought on by unlimited and often unmonitored exposure to the media by parents who are only too happy to let TV baby sit for them. My children’s aunt, whom I stay with, and I have  often debated the morality of having to pay P400 for cable subscription  and in the process deliver the children into the hands of a sexualized and status and fad-crazed marketplace.
To mention but one aspect, the hairstyles are getting more and more striking at a an increasingly  younger  age, if not down right crazy, like my  3-year-old son’s classmate whom I saw looking sexy, I mean freaky, in a shoulder length weave the other  day, which I am convinced can only be described as a confusing and tortuous way of robbing a girl of her  precious childhood.

That being the case, I however  have to  confess  that I have  often found myself thanking the good Lord for blessing me with a good mind  as I try to wrap my head around how  on earth I managed to do well at school with no support from home at all  with my  school work when I eventually had an encounter with homework in secondary school.

Apart from the once in a blue moon math quiz by a school head family friend named ‘Million’,  a jolly good fellow and self -styled millionaire  who loved  his beer and enjoyed doling out money to whoever he fancied, we kids had nothing to do  with school work  once we got home.
Talk of separation of the school and home! I  am sure many of my age mates who went to government schools can relate. Sometimes when I think of the obstacles we encountered to be where we are now, I think I should be excused to conclude that we are geniuses of sorts!

Although I doubt if I will ever move to the level of  selling popcorn at school functions, the above observation brings me  to the conclusion that parents must make an effort to get involved somehow in their kids education and in particular assist with  homework.
I recommend you try it, you might like it and make good memories while you are at it, like my kids and I did the other day when during homework time, the younger one broke out in their latest nursery rhyme, which  goes something  like this, “I got a big fat mama who washes, washes my clothes, She ruba  ruba rubas here and ruba rubas there,” sending me into peels of laughter as I received the loud and clear  message that I needed to make a plan to start shedding off  the extra weight I have picked since the bigginingg of  the cold months.

So, when kids fail at school, who is to blame?  Kids, Parents or Teachers? Lets hear your view as we put our heads together in an effort to raise our kids right.

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