Leading British educator laments ‘downward spiral’ of the family

British teachers continue to warn that the decline of family life is making their job extremely difficult. Speaking to delegates at a meeting of Voice, the union for education professionals, general secretary Philip Parkin said: “I’m making no judgment on this, but the focus on the primacy of the individual, rather than the community; the changing pattern of family structures; the shortening length of many relationships; the creation of many more step families; the emphasis on parents going out to work and the consequent perception of the reduced value and worth of the full-time parent have all changed the way we behave.”

Parents were failing to take responsibility for their children and there was little support in the community for the task of bringing up children, said Mr Parkin. In the classroom there was low-level disruption and cheek showing a lack of respect -- “That sense of ‘you can’t tell me what to do’” -- as well as a lack of a sense of the importance of education among children.

Somehow the “downward spiral of parenting skills” had to be broken. “Do we build parenting skills into the secondary curriculum, which is already packed? Do we have pre-natal classes that we compel people to attend? I don’t think we can do that.” Schools were already expected to address issues such as obesity and underage drinking, as well as teach.

Mr Parkin said that “tribal loyalty” has replaced family loyalty, and gang culture is now a way of life. However, he had sympathy with parents trying to bring up their children in today’s commercialised environment. “It was much easier being a parent when I was a parent back in the 1970s and 80s than it is now, he said. The government says it’s Children’s Plan will give more support to parents and schools. ~ The Telegraph (UK), July 30



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