Thursday, September 27, 2012

The power of parents in transforming education

In June 2011 I wrote to the director of a lycée (high school) in France.  I asked a local dentist to contact the director.  I visited the office and left a letter.  The answer:  "We are too busy to give you a tour of our school.  Our teachers are too busy to spend time meeting with you."

In September 2012 I visited the same town and left a packet of information at the same lycee.   No reply.

However, I explained the situation to a local mother and she went to the primary school and asked the director to meet with me.   The director introduced me to Anne Noisette, an English speaking teacher.  That's the power of a parent.

Here is another story (in Italy):

I spoke to Giovanni's head teacher this morning, Professora X. from the Scuole B.  She was taking down notes while I was introducing your projects and she was very interested even though we didn't spend a lot together.
Prof. X. is interested to meet you on Skype maybe with the English tutor and discuss together about having the internet in the classroom  always available (we don't have it yet as a habit); 
She also wants to review your system of teaching i.e. "A GuideOnTheSide" system that you suggest, the peer -to- peer teaching, free access to e-books, etc.
I mentioned her the 3 main points that you put in the Big Picture book:
a) Robert Reich (it is not necessary to teach the same subjects that we learned 50 years ago)
b)  grades and narratives  (it is better to ask a teacher to write two pages of words instead of giving only a single letter "A" or "B")
c)  tests and exhibitions  (it is better to ask a student to stand and talk about what he knows instead of asking only for writing)
And then I spoke just a very brief intro about the space project.  (Students today need a BIG GOAL that they can all work together to achieve).
 ..that is a huge one and it's good you may introduce and expand yourself when you contact Professora X.  through the web.
I left her also the sheets to photocopy and put into the classrooms (to discuss the quotations), the Dennis Littky book and all the CDs to copy .  I hope they will contact you soon!
Something interesting she says: it is more difficult to engage the young teachers to change rather than older teachers, since the more experienced teachers are more confident and conscious.  The newer teachers are more scared about losing their authority...

That is the power of a personal visit to a school by a parent.  That's the power of the parent.   

I invite parents to go to the directors of their children's schools and ask the directors to visit and the International Network of Educators (INoE) at 

Send me your invitations at

The photo is added to give casual readers something to look at... and because the mother in Bologna made this dish (excellent photo, Isa!)

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