"Would I Want My Child in This Classroom?"

When policies and reforms are being drawn by people who do not have as much as a stake as a parent who actually has a child enrolled in the school, reasonable doubts spring. Dana Goldstein writes in "Does It Matter When Education Reformers and Activists Send Their Own Kids to Private School?":

...Rhee (an education reformer in the US) has admitted that the fastest way to improve a city's public schools would be to require every single child within district limits to enroll in them, which would bring engaged, politically savvy parents into the system. Instead, she and Huffman (also an education reformer) are choosing to opt out, and it's worth asking them more about it. Do they believe other people's children will benefit from a different type of education than their daughter needs? Why? Or are they simply unwilling to enroll their child in a school system that they do not -- at least not yet -- consider up to par for any child? Do they believe their own privileged daughter's educational and life outcomes would be hindered by attending school alongside less privileged peers? If so, why? These types of frank conversations happen far too rarely.
Of course, one may argue that the fact education reformers are sending their children to elite private schools only demonstrates that the public education system needs to be changed. These reformers are indeed honest, they send their children to private schools knowing quite well that their children would be served better. The problem lies in the fact that these reformers are drawing the policies that influence changes in the public school system. And their recommended strategies are not received positively by parents and teachers. This is an important point. When there are teachers who think that their plans are bad for schools, when there are parents who do not subscribe to their agenda, and these parents in fact have children that are going to be affected by these new policies, who the real stakeholders are matter.

Empathy cannot be overstated in these issues. It is important in every classroom. It is even useful in learning. "The fact that I think that I’m a parent of a child who is a student here also makes a big difference. I always kind of look at myself and go, “Would I want my son in this classroom?”", says Mary Abdul Wajid. Thus, it is indeed an important question when it comes to basic education. Wajid shares her secret in teaching in the following TeachingChannel video:

It is only a one-minute video yet it packs three profound questions (provided by the TeachingChannel) to consider:
  1. How does Ms. Abdul-Wajid make her passion for teaching evident to her students?
  2. Ms. Abdul-Wajid shares about her own struggles in school. What effect does this have on her students?
  3. How does being a parent encourage Ms. Abdul-Wajid to be reflective about her teaching practice?
There is one example in the TeachingChannel that illustrates not only the commitment of Wajid, but also her innovative skills. This example is a very simple modification yet it has significant effects. It is amazing what happens when those who actually have a personal stake in education decides what to do inside the classroom.


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