We are the secret sauce

bent spoon has languished for a while. I apologize. Thinking about bent spoon, however, has been constant in the time that I’ve been away from here. Thinking, as it happens with thinking, has come with different struggles: paths forged, fast travels, dead ends.

And this thinking has had a theme, a consistent thread: how parenting (styles and engagement) effect student success.

OK, that detail sounds awfully academic, but there’s a reason behind that. Much of the thinking over the past weeks has centered around contemplating whether or not pursuing an advanced degree would be worthwhile for bent spoon. Would adding a couple of extra letters at the end of my name – M.A., EdD, or PhD for example – add more credibility to the examinations and observations that appear at bent spoon?

The conclusion is inconclusive. PhDs are really intended for people focused on doing research. That’s not me, at least not in the orthodox sense. The research I want to do is what is called interdisciplinary. The “research” I want to do is the amalgamation of already existing research that does not appear – on initial inspection – to be touching each other.

Did you know that there is a group at John’s Hopkins University that has 15 years worth of research scientifically supporting the notion that a child’s success in school is substantially buoyed by a parent’s involvement. And involvement does NOT mean that the parent is doing the child’s homework. (Helicopter parents take note.)

The big topic of conversation among parents and communities over the past ten years has been the woeful performance of the United States education system. Talk to teachers and they’ll tell you that the children who succeed typically are the ones with involved parents. Talk to administrators and they’ll tell you the same thing. Talk to researchers and they’ll show you the obvious results of long-term studies proving this notion.

The secret sauce is not in constantly revamping curriculum. The panacea is not in adopting new, innovative approaches to teaching math. The silver bullet is not putting new technology in every classroom. The answer has been in front of us the entire time: us…parents.

Here’s the rub: there are a LOT of people making a LOT of money off of this new industry. Yes, education is an industry now. Kumon. Huntington. Sylvan. This math and that math. Charter Schools. Private schools. Who really has the best interest of the children in mind?


But in the true macro, decision making process, parents have been taken out of the process.

Or worse yet, parents in the most at-risk communities feel disenfranchised, and some times even unwelcomed.

While I know they do not intend to do this, many educators can present a face that is not very welcoming: an “I know more about teaching your child than you do” kind of vibe.

I’m not arguing that parents know more than teachers. The point is that to be truly successful that the process needs to be a partnership.

But when, in a public school, you have the confluence of so many different personalities, and cultures, how do you create that sense of partnership, and an environment where parents feel welcome, and educators do not feel threatened?

This is where my head has been over the last few weeks, and I can’t figure out the answer.

That’s frustrating, but it’s not going to stop me.

More to come.