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Do you assume children are lying? Weird email from a school...

I got a very disconcerting email from the school I work for today. I work for them in a very minor capacity - I'm an assistant coach for a sports team. They don't practice in the school, so I'm rarely ever there. I have very little contact with admins and none with teachers.

Anyway, this is a private school that likes to pretend it's a Quaker school, and being such the headmaster sends out an email once a week to all the faculty, staff, students, and parents. I generally don't read them because they tend to be pretentious and patronizing - I don't need to hear about how revelatory your evening in the train station with the poors was, dude. Anyway, for whatever reason I clicked on this one, and it was about parenting. In a paragraph that I'm assuming was intended to admonish helicopter parents, discussing how much more capable kids are than we give them credit for, he references the NYT piece by Jessica Lahey titled "Five Things Teachers Wish Parents Knew: Your Kids Can Do More Than You Think." One of the five was:

"We promise not to believe everything your child says happens at home if you promise not to believe everything your child says happens in our classroom."


This really, really rubbed me the wrong way. The article was behind a pay wall, but I found the blog post where she begins, she elaborates and it becomes clear that what she really means is when there's a concern about either, communication between parent and teacher is important. True, and fair enough. But the title stands on its own, particularly in the email, and I really don't like it. If the point is to teach children that they are capable of things on their own, shouldn't we instead be teaching them that their words matter to us? Plus there's the dangerous and unspoken issue of child abuse. Children regularly do get abused at school, and it's not a parent's job to be the teacher's advocate against their child. It's the parent's job to be their child's advocate, and sometimes that means backing the teacher and sometimes that means taking the teacher on. And sadly, we all know that children get abused at home, and that many don't say anything because they don't think their words will matter.

I just think that titling that piece, essentially, "We promise not to believe your children if you promise to do it to!" is really irresponsible, regardless of the elaboration that follows. And it's irresponsible for the head of this school to send it out to his entire faculty, staff, students, and parents without that elaboration.

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