Parata: families and society must step up

As she ends her tenure as Minister of Education Hekia Parata says that the responsibility for education goes beyond schools.

NZ Herald: Schools can’t teach everything, outgoing Education Minister Hekia Parata warns

Outgoing Education Minister Hekia Parata says a push for schools to cover all civic and social responsibilities needs to be resisted – saying families and society must step up.

Parata highlighted the issue during an exit interview with the Herald before she steps down from the role on May 1, with Associate Education Minister Nikki Kaye expected to take over.

“We should demand a lot from our education system because we have a quality one. But we shouldn’t demand everything,” Parata said.

“Financial literacy, sex education, bullying – any number of issues – whenever they emerge in the public domain the first response is, ‘This should be taught by schools’. I think there needs to be a much fairer shared responsibility here between parents, family, whanau.

“Schools are there to deliver an education. They are not there to take over all the roles and responsibilities of families or society. The more there is balance in those expectations the more the schools can have the space to be the best that it can be.”

Parata makes an important point.

Curiosity and diligence and a willingness to learn has to start at home, with parents and with wider whanau.

By the time kids get to school – or even to early childhood education – they will have learnt off those they live with.

But how parents and whanau learn how to teach their children better?

And right through a child’s school it is important for parents not to just leave education up to the Government or to schools.

More important than learning stuff is the gaining the ability and desire to learn. A babbling teacher will struggle without a curious child.

There is a growing tendency for some to expect schools to feed the kids, parent the kids, provide social support, and try to fit in a bit of the three ‘R’s.

Most of what most animals learn is from observation, by copying, mimicking, learning off those they associate with. Especially off those they are close to and trust.

Education begins at home, and needs to continue at home. Schools can be a major help, but they will never replace the essential role of parents and whanau.