Passive Participants

November 30, 2007

I had a great conversation about SchoolPulse with a Thoreau School father this week. We were talking about that all-too-familiar parent-child exchange. You ask, “How was your day?” and your child answers, “Good.” You probe cautiously, “What did you do at school?” and your child answers, “Stuff.” Not too satisfying for the parent, but that’s how it goes.

Dan’s insight struck me. “At best,” he said, “We are just passive participants in the most formative years of our children’s lives.” While I had been pitching Dan on this grand, almost utopian vision of improving schools through broader community involvement, he keyed in on a very different, and perhaps more important need: Giving parents a richer flavor of what their children do at school

This could happen in a number of ways. Parents who volunteer in the classroom or on field trips often have cameras — I have some great pics from a recent trip with my daughter’s fourth grade class to Great Blue Hill. Let’s get those pictures posted for other parents to see. Teachers could share their newsletters, pictures of their classes at work, maybe even videos taken at the Turkey Trot or pep band competition. We could provide links to the great websites that many teachers already have.

The photos, videos, and commentary that we would all love to see are out there. The challenge is making them accessible to the rest of the school community.