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What do parents want their children to know when they leave school?

My wife and I have 5 children and I asked her this question late last night. Do you know what she didn’t say? She didn’t say, “I want them to know lots of stuff”.

Why am I telling you what she didn’t say? Because the ‘stuff’ is still what our curriculum seems to be full of. The ‘stuff’ is what I still feel like I need to get into my students’ heads so that they can achieve this standard or that standard. At the end of the day, in order for our students/children to succeed by gaining a qualification, they need to know ‘stuff’. Yes, I realise they need to be able to apply it in different situations, but ultimately, we as teachers have all these things we need to teach our students before they finish the year or sit the final assessment/examination.

So what did she say that she wants our children to know when they leave school? Here is some of what she (and I – since we happen to fortunately be in agreement on this!) said:

  • we want our children to be confident and competent in basic literacy and numeracy
  • we want our children to be able to think for themselves
  • we want them to be able to work successfully both independently and collaboratively
  • we want them to be able to communicate confidently, clearly and effectively (this could be orally, or by pen or technology – text message, IM, facebook or similar etc)
  • we want our children to know how to learn
  • we want our children to be critical thinkers and to be able to ask effective questions
  • we want them to know how to search for answers to their questions

There was probably more and if I’ve missed anything crucial my wife will add to this list I’m sure.

I guess, if I was going to put it in one sentence:

When our children leave school we want them to be prepared for their future, having the skills to survive and succeed, and knowing how to think and learn in order to overcome challenges that may come their way.
What do you think? If you have any views or opinions on this, it would be great to hear from you. Just leave a comment below.

5 thoughts on “What do parents want their children to know when they leave school?

  1. That is an awesome list (and sentence)–any school should use it as a motto. I’ve been teaching a long-ass time, and I threw out any fixation on things a long time ago, and everything we do is about: Communicating and Thinking. Good post!

    1. Thanks for the comment. Communicating and thinking. Yes that about sums it up.

      Of course this wasn’t exactly an extensive study… I just wanted to start thinking about what was important now for our students to be able to do. Information is so readily at their fingertips.

  2. And in my experience in providing training in the tertiary sector, and interfacing between students and employers your summary describes oerfectly what employers are looking for!

    1. Thanks for the comment and for backing up our thoughts. I am so keen to see students learn how to learn, and learn the skills for life!

  3. This is almost an exact transcript of a conversation I had around a table recently. I agree with you the ‘stuff’ (I was calling it ‘academia’) is unimportant it’s the processes that are the key to showing our students (kids) future.
    When they question us I believe we should be gently mirroring the questions back at them along with .. Who could tell you? Where could you go to find that information? Etc etc
    It’s our job to role model that we are life long learners. We aren’t the fountain of all information and that we are merely guides or facilitators.
    But then you know all this!

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