I went for a teachers-parents meeting today. I just went for one reason. My daughters feel proud to show off their school to me and may be they also feel proud to “show off” their father to their teachers and their friends. Whatever, I don’t want to let my daughters down. That’s the only reason I attend the parents-teacher meeting.
My wife and I leave the teachers to do their job in providing them the formal education while we focus on passing on some soft skills that may come handy in life – good values. In other words, teachers and parents have distinct responsibilities. Now don’t get me wrong. I am not saying who is more, or less, important - teachers or parents? I am saying, to cite a cliché, teachers and parents are like the two wings on which our children can fly. And if either party play the part well, our children can fly very high.
Of course, I do meet the teachers. I say hello to madam principal. I sit down with respective class teachers to ask few questions. "Is there anything I could do or I should know?" "Are my daughters causing any problems in the school?" "Hope they are not behind with their assignments." After receiving no to all my questions, I sign the participation form and walk away with pride. Other than that I only make sure that my children are enjoying their school and they are moving ahead with their studies.
My job does not allow much time with my family and so I am careful about doing at least the bare minimum. Attending the parents-teachers meeting, collecting them from the bus top when I am in Thimphu, trekking to a temple on a Sunday afternoon, going for a movie together (they take me because we get free access. I know most of the film producers).
But what is more, my wife and I try to focus on imparting good values. This is where parents should take their role seriously and don’t leave it to the teachers. I teach them the difference between right and wrong, respects for elders, regards for colleagues, reverence for the King, love for the country, compassion to those less fortunate and fear for God. My wife, being a Japanese, hammers them on cleanliness, discipline, good manners, honesty and hard work. When I come back from tours, I also talk about how we sleep in tents and huts and bare floors because that’s the reality in some places in Bhutan. And not to take their good life for granted because “out there” there are people who have nothing. My younger daughter, who is seven, sometimes gets too inspired that she sleeps on the floor in my sleeping bag and calls it “sleeping like in Mongar”.
There is the on-going debate on the “degrading” quality of education and “substandard” graduates or educated lot. I am just wondering where exactly we are going wrong. In imparting the hard knowledge or in giving the softer skills – or in providing both? I am not saying that my way is the right way. In fact my regular absence from home makes me anything but a perfect father. My consolation is that, in any case, there is no formula for successful parenting and only time will tell if I have been a successful parent. But if we are little more serious in passing on our values and traditions, I am certain that we will have lesser to complain on the quality of education and the teachers.
Lastly, my definition of education. "When you have forgotten what you have learnt in school and still be successful in life, you were well educated"