OPINION

Parents playing hooky

Students are staging sit-in protests in public schools across the country. According to media reports, the demands of the protesting students vary: Some are asking for interactive blackboards and the abolition of chalk, others are demanding heating oil or to make up for lost classes, others are calling for the scrapping of the memorandum signed with the European Union and International Monetary Fund. The minister of education said on Thursday that students were mobilized after receiving SMS messages sent to them by opposition party officials. One cannot rule that out, especially in cases where sit-ins were held in protest at the IMF measures. The first question that comes to mind is: Where are the parents of these children? Where are their teachers? Are they not talking to each other? I understand and share the pupils’ anxiety if they are still left without an Ancient Greek teacher but a sit-in protest is not any solution to the problem. It is a problem in itself. What about the parents and guardians’ associations? Have they discussed any of these issues with the teachers or with ministry officials? Have they sought to pacify these young revolutionaries? Have they taken any measures to ensure the smooth operation of classes and other school activities? I fear that parents are not actively involved in school life. They are not working together with the teachers. They have given in to a bankrupt system that has long relinquished the power of regulating itself. The teacher-student relationship has also become very static, derived of reciprocity and dynamism. Teachers tend to abandon their pedagogical vocation, feeding their pupils dry indigestible information. The students, for their part, are squandering their talent in gadding about and defacing public property – which become a kind of national sport. Sure, providing education is the teachers’ business. The school cannot and should not be transferred to the home. But it is parents who must make sure, in a democratic society, that schools are functioning smoothly. It is the parents who must discuss the causes of discontent with their disillusioned children and then seek to explain the causes of the frustration. An understanding of the collective whole and of acting responsibly in public spaces are all taught within the family.