Who to Blame?

Parents in a recent survey say teachers should stop blaming them for poor student performance. I agree to an extent. Parents are not 100% responsible for their students’ successes or failures, but they do have an enormous effect.

Without trying to determine every cause, here are my top reasons for my students’ lack of success (in no particular order):

  • reading level,
  • class size,
  • time spent on video games, tv, and the computer,
  • parent involvement,
  • an acceptance of low grades,
  • a lack of internal motivation,
  • attendance,
  • an inability to see relevance, and
  • apathy.

I don’t necessarily think any one person or group is responsible, and the system itself may be the most culpable. Granted, people control the system; however, a concerted effort must be undertaken to change it.

What do you feel are the biggest reasons for your students’ lack of success?

5 thoughts on “Who to Blame?

  1. Mystery Teacher

    I don’t know who to call out on it. I am teaching ELL this year and I only have 2 sets of parents who are not involved in their students education. It is unbelievable for me. Parents who care. It doesn’t make them all successful either. But, it really helps that they back me. I feel I can push them and prod them harder because their parents want them to be successful. I think that until we get the teachers, parents and students on the same page, someone will get the blame.

  2. westofbiology

    When I first started teaching, I had a principal show me a very simple graph. He drew a circle and divided it into three parts. As he explained education and it’s relative success or failure for a single student, he labeled the three parts; Parent, Student and School. Then he told me that test after test showed that the success or failure of a student depended on these three things and if ALL three were not actively involved, the student would face a greater chance of failure rather than success. That was a powerful visualization for me. I have kept that thought in my mind as I have worked with my students.

  3. mrschili

    Of your nine items, I say at least six of them are directly influenced by parents. While I’m not looking to BLAME anyone (I don’t like the blame game; it’s not constructive), I do think that parents need to be far more engaged in their child’s life, both at home (do you know that the average kid plays something like 10,000 hours of video games by the time he graduates high school?) and at school (this is being made easier with communication sites like Edline). I’m not saying that parents should be over the kid’s shoulder all the time, but a working understanding of what’s going on is vital – and, not for nothing, what the parent signed up for when they decided to become a parent in the first place.

  4. jtspencer

    From my experience, parents have very little control over most factors. In the early years, they do . . . to an extent. Yet, over time, the peer group becomes stronger, the social context has more of a pull and alternate diversions take the place of studying (internet, t.v., sports, getting high, working a job). The social and cultural factors are incredibly strong and they mix with the school culture (often irrelevant information, overuse of memorizing facts, a lack of authenticity, large class sizes) and a student’s ability level, motivation, temperament and self-efficacy.

    With such a complicated web of factors no factor seems to be the most dominant. That’s why I get so annoyed with politicians and pundits who fail to see how exceedingly complicated it really is. School reform can’t be reduced down to simplified procedures and sloganeering.


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