190. Passing the Buck

We don’t like to think we cause problems. We don’t like to think we even contribute to them. When we see problems, we like to solve them. If we’re not successful, we like to find someone to blame. Scapegoating has caused some of the ugliest chapters in history, but it’s also pretty common in everyday life. It’s so much easier, when we can’t make things right, to lay the blame on someone else who is presenting insurmountable obstacles.
And so a child who is having trouble in school can become a bone of contention between parents and educators. The parents may believe that the child has no problem, or has a problem that is easy to manage. The real problem, think these parents, is that the teacher, the school, or the school system is incompetent – unable and/or unwilling to resort to simple solutions that work fine at home.
Meanwhile, the teacher and other school personnel may be convinced that the child’s problem, or the difficulty in solving it, is mainly due to a mismatch; the child has the wrong parents. These parents, thinks the teacher, don’t know their own child – can’t see the solution that’s staring them in the face.
The disagreements between school personnel and parents can sometimes turn into battles. Both usually have the child’s best interests in mind, but neither thinks the other does. Perhaps one wants the child to get extra help outside the classroom and the other doesn’t. Or one thinks the child is being underchallenged. Parents, especially, have a tendency to think their children are geniuses, (Mine certainly are. Well, obviously, they had to be. Look at the gene pool.) and whatever trouble they’re having in school has to do with boredom.
Imagine how children must perceive these battles. Children usually love both their parents and their teachers. When these important adults in children’s lives seem to be at war, it can feel somewhat similar to what children feel as their parents go through divorce. Loyalty to parents is, of course, stronger, but teachers are still important to children.
I propose a truce. I suggest that educators and parents listen to each other – really listen. Not just let each other have their say. Once in a while, a parent or teacher may not have the needs of the child at heart, but there’s a lot to be gained by trusting each other as long as possible.

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