Save. Spend. Splurge.

Lazy children aren’t allowed to fail in Canada

..and it’s not doing them any favours.

In my mind, the main reason why I feel education of children is far better in France (and possibly other parts of Europe but i haven’t surveyed or quizzed anyone) is that teachers here live in fear of failing children and their parents.

Yes you heard me.

Teachers in Canada live in fear of being unable to giving failing marks to children even though they 100% deserve it.

This means that if your child is a lazy bum, he or she will pass on to the next grade and become the next teacher’s headache.

As a child you can basically do no homework, or do it half-assed, hand in nothing as an assignment, leave the class and not listen to the teacher… and still pass onto the next grade having retained nothing in your skull.

Oh and the kicker is that these kids don’t get in trouble if their parents don’t want them in trouble.



Unbelievable but true, this society of ours with helicopter parents are basically hamstringing their own children.

I really, REALLY hate helicopter parents.

I very much dislike (I’d even go as far as to say “loathe”) anyone who proudly says to me: I’m a helicopter parent!, and expects me to smile and nod.

I will go as far as to call them … okay maybe I won’t call them that on this blog.


Helicopter parents are the devil because they think that their precious snowflake is the only child you should be paying attention to in a class of 25 – 30 students (up to 200+ students in total for an average teacher) and get their nose all bent out of shape when you don’t coddle them.

If you want your child to always receive undivided, one-on-one attention, pay for a private tutor who will indulge you for an obscene amount of money.

Hell if you paid me lots of money, I’d even take that job to coddle your snowflake.


However, teachers are not paid like rockstars, so they don’t want to really go out of their way to coddle your snowflake, they have 30 other snowflakes and hovering parents to take care of.

How do you expect them to get anything taught or done if you don’t leave them alone to do their jobs?

You know what? What they’re doing isn’t even helping their kids.

Do you review your daughter’s homework every night?

Robinson and Harris’s data, published in The Broken Compass: Parental Involvement With Children’s Education, show that this won’t help her score higher on standardized tests. 


Similarly, students whose parents frequently meet with teachers and principals don’t seem to improve faster than academically comparable peers whose parents are less present at school.

Other essentially useless parenting interventions: observing a kid’s class; helping a teenager choose high-school courses; and, especially, disciplinary measures such as punishing kids for getting bad grades or instituting strict rules about when and how homework gets done.



I already wrote a long rant about this (do your damn job as a parent), but basically, parents ship their children off to school they pretty much wash their hands of any kind of parenting responsibility.

“My kid acted up in your class? No way he never does that at home.

It must be YOU.” 


“So what do you want me to do? You should be the one taking care of the situation if she’s acting up.”

Look, teachers are not there to pick on your child.

Teachers are there to teach, and if a teacher is calling you saying that there’s a problem, there’s a problem and they are asking you, their parents to take care of the situation.

I repeat: It’s not the teacher, it is YOU.

Your child is YOUR responsibility, and teachers can only do so much.

If you want to ignore it, fine, but in the future, don’t come crying to anyone or get outraged when your kid can’t even properly read and write by the time they leave high school.


“Oh but she’s just a kid. Leave her alone.”

I’m sorry.. but is she going to grow into an adult one day? (You hope!)

Well then, how is she supposed to learn how to act like one?

It has gotten to the point where children can pretty much do whatever they want, such as:

  • Sneak out of the classroom on a “bathroom break” and never return
  • Pretend they need to go somewhere / do something and never return
  • Text on their phones and talk to their friends constantly
  • Ignore you and act like monkeys, disrupting the flow in class
  • Not hand in their homework or even bother to do anything
  • ..or just scribble some bullsh*t in 5 seconds on a piece of paper and say: Here you go. I did the assignment.

….and you are still expected to pass them.


You are still expected to pass them as a teacher, or receive a big fat effin’ headache raining down on you from the principal, the school board, and their angry helicopter parents wondering WTF is going on.

(Oh and trust me, the parents KNOW what is going on because NO TEACHER fails a child or wants to give them a low grade without having tried to talk to the parents first to resolve the issue.)

A child needs to be held responsible for their actions, otherwise they grow up into those lazy, idiotic adults we see and have to work with on a daily basis.

Just showing up in class does not automatically qualify you for a passing grade, nor does doing an assignment in 5 seconds that should take a whole period count, but apparently in Canada it does.

(From what I’ve seen what children hand in as “essays”, and I’m fairly sure a newborn monkey with a typewriter would do better than some of them.)


There is no support for the teacher who wants to fairly grade a child.

Schools and principals are on the side of the parents because the parents are the ones who are the “clients”.


I have heard enough from teachers how the principals in the schools don’t support the teachers’ decisions to fail children or give them low marks because they give in to irate, foaming-at-the-mouth parents who come in demanding why their children only got a 50 in a subject.

Maybe it’s because your kid deserved that 50 because they didn’t do jack all year?

Enough said.



We’ve taken it too far where we don’t want to hurt their delicate self-esteem by failing them or telling them that they’re doing a bad job in class and are being lazy, to the point where we go to the other extreme and give them FALSE encouragement that they don’t deserve.

I’m rolling my eyes as I type this because reality is always that not everyone will get perfect marks.

How many people in our society become the top in their field? 1%?

Less than 1%?

It’s the same in classrooms, so why are we of the expectation that reality is not to be reflected in the classroom as well?

Just because they’re children?

They won’t be children forever, and wouldn’t you want your child to get a good dose of what reality is before they come smack up against it?

Guess what? Your child is average and so are you. (And so am I!)


In the end, the teacher is always to blame:

“Did you coach him one on one?”

“Did you accommodate her learning needs and give her your best attention possible?”


NO ONE wants to teach a class full of children who don’t understand anything, it’s frustrating.

But what these idiot adults are expecting is this:

“Did you offer to give up your life, free time and sanity and dedicate it to re-teaching them how to do something that they didn’t bother paying attention in class in the first place?”

No. Why would they?

I wouldn’t, if I were a teacher.

If you legitimately don’t want to pay attention in class and aren’t legitimately struggling, then expect a passing grade or special help after school on my own free time after you haven’t been doing anything during actual class time, you can effin’ forget it.

Basically, no teacher wants to NOT give the child attention and help them succeed within reason (e.g. the hours of their job), otherwise they’d end up like me, someone who learned very early on that she was not fit to be a teacher because she has the patience of an goldfish!!!

(Everyone is very lucky I did not turn out to be a teacher, trust me. Also, teachers work on weekends and at nights marking papers and doing stuff for kids to prep for classes, so don’t think their work ends at 3:30 p.m. each day.)

Know what I say to all of this CRAP of shifting blame from the child and their parents onto the teacher?

Pay them more if you want them to also become nannies/babysitters and not just educators trying to teach kids who are supposed to want to learn.

So listen up, here’s the real truth, parents:

Teachers just get exhausted trying to teach and grade fairly, so they avoid conflict and hassles, and just pass your lazy children, who inevitably end up becoming parasites on society (not to mention your finances).

When a teacher says something, their word is not solid enough and they don’t get backed up by the principal.

So don’t think that just because you “won” an argument for your child against a teacher that you’re doing your child any good.

You may have won the battle but the war is far from over.

You’ve just hamstrung your child and taught her that with a little bitchin’ and moaning, she’ll get her way with everyone around her, just like she does with you.

See even though she hasn’t done anything all year and hasn’t retained anything of use in her skull to verify that she is indeed of the level of her peers, she has a right to receive a passing grade because of her precious self-esteem and confidence, right?

If not, you’ll just step in to fight her battles for her for the rest of her life….. won’t you?

Yes, this is what our school system has come down to.

We’re apparently the most educated country in the world but what I am seeing is a disturbing trend of raising generations of entitled, whiny idiots.


I’d rather have a really hard but fair teacher teaching my children that they can’t be morons in class and expect to coast through the rest of their school years.

I don’t want my kids to grow up with any expectation that they deserve a passing grade for having done jack squat.

I’d rather have a kid that is not smart who works and tries really hard to reach some sort of level even if it isn’t the highest one, than a “smart” kid who doesn’t do anything because he has parents to fight for him.

These kids deserve every failing mark and grade that they got, and it has nothing to do with the teacher especially if the rest of the class is NOT failing.

If my kid is an idiot, it is my fault and their fault.

Maybe the teacher can take SOME blame for not having good teaching methods, but ultimately this reflects reality.

Not every boss will be awesome and encouraging or even like you.

Not every co-worker will be easy to understand and to work with or like you.

..and NO job will let you throw yourself on the floor, kick, scream and whine to get what you want.

It’s called LIFE.

You know, living and working with other humans?



For me if I see my kid gets a failing mark, I’d acknowledge that I have failed partly as a parent for not having instilled the proper behaviours in them to work hard and succeed (or even to have caught this problem early on!!), but I am also not taking the entire blame for my child’s laziness because trying is not the same as getting the job done.

My kid would deserve every failing mark she got because she didn’t do anything all semester, and I’d tell her that rather than trying to soothe her delicate fragile ego and tell her that Mommy is going to get angry and “straighten out that teacher”.

I mean in reality, think about it do we get paid a lot of money for doing our best and trying REALLY hard at a job?

No, we get paid as a result of our work and how we execute or deliver value.

One of the best posts I’ve ever read on this is here: 6 harsh truths that will make you a better person.

He’s totally right, you know.


As far as I know, this fear of failing a child does not happen in France, and I am sure happens in other countries (Germany, Norway, Sweden, etc).

In France, I am told it is kind of the other extreme which I find sort of funny in a sad way.


French teaching methods seem to center around humiliation as a method of motivation.

Teachers will for instance after an exam or a test, read out in order from highest to lowest, all the marks of each child.

They’ll even comment as they are reading out your marks to everyone in the class saying things like:

As usual, Celine is in top spot again with a mark of ____.


And finally in last place and of absolutely no surprise to anyone in this room, Pierre is at the bottom again with a mark of _____.

This is considered normal, but “harsh” and “brutal” to our sensibilities, no?

I’ve also read that some French parents who have children who receive TOO high marks in class will actually complain to the teacher and be suspicious that the teacher is taking it too easy on their child and not teaching them properly or grilling them enough.

I am also told that even when French teachers give out marks in class, if you reach 50% as a grade, it is considered a miracle and you’re a genius, because the French Bell Curve goes the other way, and someone who is average scores 20% – 30%.

There’s none of this bullsh*t about everyone getting 70% as an average in Canada.

(I grew up in the Canadian system, so I know firsthand how easy it is to get excellent marks because you’re being compared to kids who don’t even do anything.)


I am also told that in France, children are rigorously filtered out early as they go up in the grades, and they shift them into schools early on that deal with trades and other jobs that don’t require a lot of brain power because they basically categorize what you can and cannot achieve and don’t want to waste government time or money on those who can’t make it.

This sounds so awful and mean when you first hear it, but then you think: … but they actually have valid reasons for doing this.

#1: Not everyone can become what they dream of becoming.

This is reality and a fact of life. Some people will not be able to become doctors, and others will become plumbers or even factory workers.

There is nothing wrong with any of that in my opinion, because a job is a JOB. Just because you work in a factory it does not mean you’re an idiot.

The real idiot would be someone who hasn’t realized that they can’t become a lawyer because they don’t have the aptitude for it, and they try their whole lives to attain some sort of status job that will not make them happy.

Choose what you can be good at, like and be happy with as a job, is my motto.


#2: You as a citizen REALLY don’t want people who are idiots to be in charge of stuff that matters.

I’m going to be facetious here but you don’t want children to be able to reach the top and receive fake engineering degrees because of their hovering, squawking helicopter parents!

These fake engineers could literally be in charge of making sure thousands of lives are safe and able to cross that bridge safely without it collapsing.

What an awful thing it would be to falsely pass a child for a degree like engineering just to not hurt their self-esteem, and then to realize they were the ones responsible for a faulty bridge!

Would you want an engineer who passed just because they whined about their marks to design the bridge you use every day?

Would you want a doctor who didn’t really know her job very well to treat you for a serious ailment or operate on you?

No. No you don’t.

So why are we letting children think that it’s okay to skate by in any other profession as long as you bitch about it, and call in the their parents to fight on your behalf and threaten to sue teachers who are trying to do their damn job?

Don’t believe me?

It’s happening in the U.S. as well as I had suspected:

In a recent interview, former US Secretary of Education William Bennett said that his research shows that only 150 of the 3,500 US colleges are worth their price tags in terms of return on investment.


150 / 3500 = 4.28%

= Realistic number of U.S. colleges that should exist

 = 95.71% or the majority of colleges have no real value on the market

Yeah. That’s what I thought.

4.28% is about right for the amount of people who should legitimately claim to have a real college education of any value.

I asked BF about this once, and I think he said it’s more like 1% in France.

Maybe 2%.


Teachers who can’t fail children early on, pass them onto the next teacher, and the next, and the next until the kid is 18 and their parents realize that she still hasn’t learned how to properly read, write, do math and use logic.

Then maybe her parents decide that they’ll just throw money at the problem instead of being horrified and trying to fix the situation.

So what does she do?

She goes and gets some fake online degree where you get to study from home (from one of the 95.71% of useless colleges course), click on a few multiple-choice answers with the help of her mother or father hovering over her shoulder telling her what to do*, and receive a paper degree in the mail certifying that she is indeed, a college graduate.

*No joke, some helicopter parents actually write full-on college essays for their children, and they think they’re helping their child learn something by doing so.

Then this child, armed with this fake online degree, goes out into the world and comes back crying to Mommy or Daddy because her degree is worthless in the real world and no one wants to hire her.

Mommy calls someone like this guy in HR and screams at him on the phone for making her little girl cry and not giving her the job:

As a former hiring manger I sometimes encountered helicopter parents. I simply told them it was my policy to NOT hire anyone I deemed not capable of working independently.

A few got pushy so I told them I was not going to waste any more time talking to them and I wasn’t going to waste any more time considering their son/daughter for the position.

I then thanked them for helping me determine their offspring would not be a good “fit” for the position and I hung up.

Some would immediately call back and I’d let the call go to voice mail.

These parents are simply crazy. Life is too short.


Or maybe, she finally lands a job but then her boss yells at her because she’s late AGAIN and totally incompetent, so Daddy gets on the phone and calls the boss to straighten him out, like he has always done.

She of course, gets fired.

Then she moves back in with her parents, gets a minimum wage job, becomes depressed and spends all her time whining on the internet on some blog she started about how her life sucks, she’s only able to find a job at Wal-Mart working minimum wage as a cashier, but she’s really, REALLY smart and she has a college degree to prove it.

Did I mention she’s now 35 but still living rent free and sponging off her parents for free (cellphone, food, clothing, and whatever else paid for)?

Her parents in the meantime nearing their 60s, look into the dark basement filled with the stench of despair and hopelessness, and think:

Well, at least our precious snowflake is at home with us.

Don’t worry about anything at all, even if you are siphoning off our entire retirement fund and eating us our of house and home.

We’re not worried…. much.

You’re smart. You’ve always been smart.

Remember the time we fought against that teacher  who wanted to fail you in 5th grade because you couldn’t read at a 5th grade level?

Yeah, that teacher was a moron wasn’t she?

HAHAHA. Those were the good ol days when we could bully others into giving you what you wanted!



All for naught, it’s just a piece of paper with some fancy words on it, but these parents have missed ALL THE SIGNS of their wonderful snowflake being an actual flake.

What a lovely tale, don’t you think?


..and why I think that Canadian education is going down the drain because it just isn’t on par with Europe in terms of filtering and rigorous, careful TESTING of whether or not these kids are worthy of a degree in the first place.

We aren’t hard enough on children and we’re not letting them hit reality early enough because we want to cushion them and protect them from the real world.. until the real world comes and gives them a good kick in the ass.


So I’m skeptical with our fantastically high college education scores, and with lots of young, eager people in our society having a college degree, because to me, the true value of a college degree in Canada drops significantly in value in light of everything I have said above.

I can only hope as a parent that I get teachers for my children who will not have already been beaten down and have given up on ever doing their jobs properly because of other parents.

I want them to tell me the truth about exactly how my child is faring, and I will take care of it the best way I can.

Oh and before you go, one last point, this is exactly the kind of parental bullsh*t I am talking about:

We agreed that subjects like math and reading are the least important things that are learned in a classroom.

(WTF is school for then?)

We talked about shaping little hearts to become contributors to a larger  community – and we discussed our mutual dream that those communities might be made up of individuals who are Kind and Brave above all.


Teachers- you’ve got a million parents behind you whispering together:

“We don’t care about the damn standardized tests. We only care that you teach our children to be Brave and Kind. And we thank you.

We thank you for saving lives.”

(Not this parent! Please do not lump me into your stupid Mommy + Me group.)

If I didn’t know better, I’d think that blogger wrote that post just to troll people like me.

But…I’m not totally insensitive.

See, I get the whole speech about how teachers have a responsibility to take care of children as well in light of tragic incidents such as mass school killings that have happened but why is it that this is mass killing spree among children so common here on this side of the pond but NOT IN EUROPE?

The only one I can recall out of the ones reported regularly in the U.S. is when this freak went insane in Norway and murdered children at a camp.

It was the shock of the country, let alone the world that it could have even happened, but it is not something that is a common thing to expect (unlike in the U.S.).

Why do Europeans not seem to have a widespread, constant problem of mass shootings in schools that happen on a yearly if not more-than-yearly basis?

Anyway, chin up parents! Even if your kid works retail, he or she could still make a decent salary with the right attitude.

What do you think?

My European readers in particular, I am making a request for you to please chime in on this and tell me what it’s like in your country.


  • Autodidactic

    This is obviously written by one of the worst teachers in north america . Get a grip . The earth is flat . You get paid to lie to children . Teachers like you get zero respect from me . Your teaching the most basic information in the most boring way, there is nothing right about it . Its a farce . Schools are not where we want to “ship our kids ” . Your the snowflake if you belive the bull your talking . Im a sole custody father my sons day is longer than yours. He starts at 6 am at school by 6:45 you probably haven’t woke up by then . Your pathetic you normally i would say you have no buisness being in a school but that place is so backwards thats exactly where you belong with the rest of the souless creeps . Hope you find a new career with that attitude your destined for disaster . Quit the lies . The earth is flat. no space travel. vaccines damage children. Evolution is a lie . No big bang . North america was civilized before the fake Columbus. The problem is the divide . The classism maybe you should teach at a private school or secondary school level . But you wouldent want to be the least intelligent person in the room now would you 🙂 thank god i dropped out and wrote my ged . No study it took me 8 houra to do what it would take you 4 years to teach . That there should set off alarms . Your job your career is nothing but a scam .

  • Kim

    I am having major issues with my 16 year old. One of them being not go to school. Last year she missed 3 months of school and ended up passing 2 of her 4 courses and I was furious and could do nothing. I went to every resource to try and get help with no luck. Thinking she needed new environment put her in a different school and again has missed more classes than she has gone. And don’t you love the Canadian law allowing teens to quit school at 16. So now I have to go thru this again if they pass her and she’s not going to school!!!

    • save. spend. splurge.

      I’m sorry to hear that about your kid .. Any reason why she is skipping so much? Bullying? Wrong crowd? Anxiety? Feels stupid and thinks she doesn’t need to bother if she is dumb? ….

  • maz

    To start with, I was born and brought up in France & now lives in the UK with my 3 kids ( bb, 5 yrs old & 9 yrs old ). There is a massive difference between France & England: in France, you do not choose your school. You go to the nearest one to your house, whether it’s considered a good school or a bad one. The curriculum is the same thoughout the whole country. All school kids study the same thing at the same time.
    In the UK, it’s quite different. YOu choose your kids’ school, accordingly to your preferences, the locations & the official school report. Curriculums vary quite a bit from one school to the other. Anyway, my main point is as follows:-Do I review my school homework? Yep. Will I help her choose her high-school courses? Probably since I’m already selecting my eldest’s daughter’s secondary school ( 2 more years to go ). I mean, no-one in their right mind would let their kids choose where they want to go, would they? Would I punish if she has bad grades? probably. Why? Because if you don’t instill a sense of discipline and achievement to your kids at an early age, who will? My eldest girl had problems with fractions and long divisions? Did I go through her homework with her? Course I did. Was it useless? Not at all. After a few long sessions of maths at home, it turned out a) she did not know her time table by heart b)she did not quite grasp how to do ratio. We went over it a couple of times and now she’s fine. I do push my kids quite a bit, I admit. They are young and I believe that it’s my job to teach them a certain ethic and standards. I will tell them off if their homework is messy, unreadable etc. Why? Because if I don’t, they’ll probably grow up thinking it’s Okay to do less than a decent job. I’ve been know to tear my daughter’s spelling sheet and asked her to do it again. Believe me, I only had to do that once, she learnt her lesson pretty quickly.
    So I have to disagree with you and the research extract in your article. Supervising homework can have some benefits.

    • save. spend. splurge.

      You bring up a great point. I don’t think what you’re doing is helicopter parenting. Helicopter parenting is more where you:

      a) Do the child’s work FOR them (e.g. write their essays, do their dioramas, etc)

      b) When their work is messy or badly done and they receive a bad grade, instead of disciplining your child, you go in and yell at the teacher instead.

      What you’re doing is parenting.

      You’re doing what I will be doing with my own kids — instilling discipline and getting them to realize that they have to work hard because nothing just comes easily to anyone.

      Helicopter parents teach that everything comes easily to their precious snowflakes and it is not their fault, it’s everyone else’s.

  • Anonymous

    Interesting conversation that you had with Chris. I lol’d when you said that the teacher’s union is like the mob. Have you (Chris and blogger) heard of Michelle Rhee? She made headlines in the U.S. for years.

    Basically she wanted to reform teaching and the teacher’s union, but it was a nasty, uphill battle for her. She was very controversial and fired poor teachers. She was picked on by the teacher’s union in the U.S. She also wanted to reform how teachers stayed instead of keeping bad teachers on the payroll.

    She became so big in the U.S. that she went on Oprah and was interviewed by Time. At one point when she was on Oprah she said that some of the teachers just care about themselves. Which is true of *some* teachers.

    When I was growing up, my mom decided to pull me out of a school because I was being bullied. This was during 5th grade, I only went there for one year because my previous elementary school did some kind of rezoning and I was no longer part of the district. So I went there for 1 year.

    I don’t know why they decided to pick on me but they did. I ended up with very low self-esteem and my dad didn’t want to do anything about it. My mom and I complained to my counselors, the teachers, principal, etc. None of them wanted to do anything.

    My grades plunged, and it was the first time in my life that I got poor grades. It just became too hard to care but I passed 5th grade. My mom pulled me out after 3 weeks in the 6th grade when it was happening again.

    The teachers, principal, counselors didn’t want to do anything about it. I know the difference between teasing and bullying. There is a huge vast difference but sometimes these authority figures don’t want to do their job and end it. When I was in high school, I heard of a girl in my school that was bullied that she committed suicide.

    I never knew her but it made me sad to hear that. Then the columbine shootings happened. Not sure if you remember those, but in the U.S. in Colorado, some unpopular teens shot their school peers. It became a huge scandal about gun rights and such throughout the U.S.

    Honestly, I think the reason these school shootings happen in the U.S. is because kids are cruel to each other. In many high schools it’s all about what your parents do, what you wear, what you own, etc. Boys and girls have their own ways of rejecting each other.

    In my h.s., I saw a lot of permissive teachers let the bullying go on.

    Also in many European countries, guns are illegal, so it’s not hard to see why shootings don’t happen there. Although I don’t think it’s a gun issue at all. Because recently there was someone who stabbed some people in a school.

    I think the overall issue is that we have some kind of societal problem in the U.S. I think that many people are in debt, the U.S. is a very wealthy country but many here are in debt, so both parents have to work, if you’re a single parent it’s much more difficult and the kids feel neglected, so they don’t have two parents/guardians at home.

    It’s very difficult to have time for the children when you have to keep a roof over your children’s heads. When my parents divorced, I lived with my mom, and it was very lonely. I remember coming home from school and being very lonely. I watched TV, went online, none of my friends lived next door to me, and its difficult making friends when you live in an apartment complex.

    Now that I look back on that time of my life, I realize that I felt depression but since I was a teen at the time, I didn’t know how to explain what I felt. All I remember was that I felt happy when my mom came home. I think this is why many kids in single parent homes veer towards drugs, etc.

    I could have easily been a statistic, but I am who I am, and I don’t believe in drugs. I like to read, I like the internet, so I would make websites, mess around online, go to the library, and sometimes my best friend would come over but she lived 15 minutes away, so she’d get one of her parents to drive her over and back.

    It was easier for her parents to do so because they were happily married and one of them could come over. Sometimes they would pick me up and we’d go over to her house. Anyway I eventually decided to join some clubs at school. I HATED coming to an empty home.

    In the olden days in the U.S. before everyone was in debt, the community raised the kids, so your neighbors, teachers, your relatives, would be willing to baby-sit, have time for the kids, they would even talk to them if they misbehaved which is something that many Americans are afraid to do these days.

    Did you hear of any school shootings in the U.S. back in the 50’s or 60’s? No. I’ve heard of civil rights issues and segregation during that time, and when African-Americans were first allowed to go to schools with Caucasians.

    I don’t think the issue in the U.S. is about guns or knives. These are just tools. The problem in the U.S. is our heart, our priorities, our lack of communities. The U.S. right now cares about American imperialism rather than fixing the problems back home.

    These days we are very disconnected especially by all these magnificent distractions: cable, internet, too many work hours, debt, etc.

    I also feel like mental health care in America is lacking. I hear that in places like Sweden there is better mental health care for people whom need it. Maybe if counselors REALLY CARED, then children would have someone to vent to instead of shooting their school peers.

    In the U.S. it’s pretty much like it is in Canada if you want to teach, you need a 4-year degree (doesn’t always need to be in education), and a teaching certificate, if you can pass backgrounds checks, then you are good to teach the kids.

    Just because you can do these things doesn’t mean that you are an excellent teacher. Throughout my time in public schools, I saw both good and bad teachers. It was obvious, even to me as a child and teen which teachers cared and which didn’t.

    I was watching 20/20 about a special on education around the world and in Finland apparently, the teachers have to constantly show how good they are and schools compete for your children.

    I also read very recently, that a top teacher in Hong Kong makes $4 million.

    I think it’s too bad that teaching is not very prestigious here in North America. I feel it should be more difficult to become a teacher. You are teaching the youth of the next generation. It should be much more difficult to become a teacher.

    Becoming a teacher, should be as difficult as becoming an actor. It’s very difficult to go into entertainment, but its prestigious, and you are highly revered in the U.S. if you are good at what you do. I just don’t think that we value teachers as much as we claim we do.

    Also more money for schools isn’t the problem, we throw too much money at this education problem in the U.S. and things aren’t improving. In fact, our rankings are falling slowly.

    • save. spend. splurge.

      Hey I agree. Becoming a teacher and being a GOOD teacher should be rewarded. Unfortunately, it is a thankless job and while I understand it’s “cushy” because they get the 2 months off (by the way they don’t get paid for those 2 months but their pay is pro-rated for the rest of the 10 months), it’s also because I know how much they have to work at night to mark assignments, create tests/quizzes/exams, do report cards for all their classes that keep expanding each year.. it’s a lot of work. A LOT of work.

      Some teachers I know even take their personal days to get all their report cards done because they want to really think about each child and give proper feedback.

      We are definitely in a new era. I’m really sorry that no one helped you especially the authority figures who should have been the first ones to say something to you and to offer help.

      Maybe that’s our problem — we’re so disconnected from being in a community that the blame gets passed back and forth when in reality it is everyone’s fault.

      I had not heard of Michelle Rhee but I’m going to Google her now. *shrug* She’s a brave woman. I’m not so sure if I were a teacher I’d want to fight either. It’s an uphill battle, you may lose your job, you will certainly be pitted against other teachers/principals/school boards who want you to STFU…

      The other thing about Canadian school boards is that the principals and vice principals are backed by the district school board (called TDSB or Toronto District Schoolboard here in Toronto), and the teachers are backed by their union.

      This creates a very awkward us versus them situation if the principal doesn’t wield his/her power correctly and fairly, and in many cases as I’ve mentioned in my comments, the teacher is not backed by their union because the unions want to do nothing and get paid, and certainly not by the principal either who has to think about HIS bosses (district school board).

      • Chris

        Hi – I have heard of that lady, I remember watching a show about her a while back. I personally think that the issue is that teaching is unionized, so you move up the pay scale according to seniority, and once you have it, you can coast if you wish, and still get paid close to 100 K. At the same time, some young, eager teacher who really cares and would be great in the classroom can’t get a job. If I were supreme ruler, teachers would be hired, fired and paid based on their performance, not seniority. Great teachers who worked hard and went above and beyond would be rewarded, while those who lost interest would be let go. Now, having said that, I do also have an issue with this attitude of teachers working so hard to mark tests and complete report cards. Yes, they may devote a couple of weekends a year to report cards, and may take some work home on an evening. Guess what – most people in white collar positions do the same thing. Teachers also get way more time off than almost any other profession I know. If I was supreme ruler of the universe, they would no longer get two weeks at Christmas and a week off in March and all summer off. They would start at 2 or 3 weeks off like everybody else, and get gradual increases to a max of about 6 or 8 weeks off like private sector people get. All those additional days could be used to prepare, so they wouldn’t need to work such “long hours” during the school year. Interestingly, this would work perfectly, as teachers have to work hardest when they are new, as there is a lot of work preparing a course the first time. As a new teacher, they would have minimal holidays, so lots of time to work on prep. As there experience grew, they would have more holidays, but would need less time to prep, as most of the work would have been done previously, and it would just be tweaking or revisiting old lesson plans they had prepared before. What politician is brave enough to propose this to the teachers, and how many of them really care enough about doing a good job to vote it in rather than fighting it tooth and nail?? It would be interesting to find out.

  • Lila

    Yep well because of that I don’t believe in spanking, you wouldn’t hit an adult so why hit a child.

  • Chris

    I agree with the theme of your posting, but disagree with a few points. Yes, kids should be allowed to fail. Yes helicopter parents aren’t helping their kids. But….. teachers are also to blame. If the teachers have a problem with the system, they have a powerful union group which they use to threaten strike action for more pay and better benefits. Why not use that power to win back the right to mark fairly and fail kids, if that’s what they think is right??? So quit trying to make it sound like teachers have no say in the matter. Guess what. Every job that deals with “people” will have a small percentage of “difficult people” to deal with, and teachers are no different, except that they are supposed to be the “experts” in education. So if they want to make changes to the system, they have the opportunity to do it. Secondly, you say that when kids act up in school, parents should be the ones addressing the situation?? No. Parents AND teachers should be addressing the situation – parents at home, and teachers in the classroom. I, as a parent, don’t know what happens in class, what the rules and consequences for breaking them are etc. etc. If my kid acts uup in class, then discipline them appropriately in school, and tell me, and I’ll do the same at home. So, to sum up – kids should fail, parents should not helicopter, and teachers should do their job as well.

    • save. spend. splurge.

      I like that you’re thinking about the other side, but the problem with that is that unions are just as bad!

      Unions are like the mob. They’re there to take your money (fees), complain on your behalf for salary raises, but not to really fight for you.

      I can tell you that I have had personal experience with this (people in my family who are teachers) who were abandoned by their union for grave matters and they had to go to court privately to settle the situation.

      Unions don’t really fight for individual teachers or for teachers as a whole who want to grade fairly, and frankly, teachers know this so they don’t even bother asking their union rep — nothing comes of it.

      I will say that you did bring up a good point though — teachers here don’t have to go through any real rigorous training to become teachers. In the book mentioned in the comments — Were you born on the wrong continent — the author mentions that teachers in some European countries have to study and pass exams to even be admitted into a school for teachers. Then from there, they have to go through a few years of training and apprenticing under older teachers to learn how to teach.

      Here in Canada, you basically just need a degree (any degree really, not even one related to what you’re teaching), to go to teacher’s college (kind of a joke to get into from what my teacher friends/family members have told me), and it’s a fallback job for many people who can’t get into other areas or do other jobs.

      As a result you absolutely have substandard teachers (I know quite a few) and those who aren’t really passionate about teaching children, but I am talking from the perspective of teachers who CARE about teaching children and really want to challenge them and teach them.. which is why they care about giving low marks or failing them if they haven’t done the work and other children in class have.

      • Chris

        Again, although I agree with your basic premise, I can’t support your argument. Teachers are supposed to be educated professionals. They vote for their union reps and therefore the membership gets to choose what issues to support. If teachers REALLY care about making the education system better, then the next round of negotiations should be all about those reforms that would do that. If their union is holding them back, then they can easily vote to disband the union. They are, after all, highly educated professionals. Most of my buddies from university are teachers, and they are all great, caring, solid citizens. They work hard, and I know that they all realize what a sweet deal it is to be a teacher. I just can’t accept that the poor teachers are powerless to change the system. If they can’t make a change, then we all might as well throw in the towel and give up trying to make things better.

        • save. spend. splurge.

          Oh yes they’re “supposed to be” being the key term here.

          I like where you’re going with what you’re saying and trust me, before I talked to teachers, I thought the same thing — Why doesn’t your union rep help you? That’s what you pay them for! You shouldn’t have to pay into something you don’t believe in!

          Unfortunately these teachers are few and far between, the ones who care about giving real marks and real homework to students instead of accommodating them and giving them second, third and fourth chances to the point where these kids take their tests home to complete with the aid of their textbooks because that’s the way it’s done these days.

          It is a sweet deal to be a teacher but as they will know, it is also long hours at night and on weekends. Being a teacher doesn’t just end at 3:30 p.m. each day.

    • save. spend. splurge.

      Oh and as for disciplining a child in school, do you have any kids?.. because depending on the principal and the teacher, a lot of children don’t get disciplined.

      Getting sent to the principal’s office, acting out, and doing everything short of selling/smoking drugs in school, doesn’t even get you sent home or suspended any longer. Principals turn a blind eye and just cater to parents who come in and scream that their child is an angel and it’s the teacher who can’t control them.

      Sure, maybe the teacher can’t control them but what power do they have other than to tell them to stop doing X, Y and Z? After that, it’s the principal that decides to suspend them and many don’t.

      Teachers really don’t have a say in the matter. You are also talking from the perspective of someone who WOULD discipline their child at home. The teachers I know who call parents at home to tell them that their kids are acting up, usually meet with resistance and have parents say: Oh I’ll talk to them… but the behaviour continues.

      Only about I’d say 30% of parents actually do something and their child changes their behaviour at school and the justice is that those are the kids who succeed.

      • Chris

        Yes two kids both in school – you?? My argument still applies. If the system is wrong (school rules, principles, teachers) then THE TEACHERS are in the best place to fix the system. I agree, there are certainly parents who helicopter and blame teachers and don’t discipline their kids. Then fix the system and stop complaining about it. I, as a parent, can only deal with my kid. If other parents don’t and teachers feel powerless, then is it OK to just cave in and let a dysfunctional system get worse?? I say no. Who can stand up and change the system. Not me, I’m not an educational professional. Teachers are. Next time they negotiate, their priorities should be fixing what they think needs fixing.

        • save. spend. splurge.

          Half my family are teachers and my brother currently has 2 in school while if you have read my blog, I just gave birth.

          I’m sorry, you can’t tell me that teachers are there to fix the problems. Parents have to also speak up if they see such problems like their kids not reading at the level they should and so on.

          Teachers have basically given up, is what I am saying. They won’t tell you this, they won’t say it or admit it but a lot of the good ones (the good eggs) have given up trying because it’s like being a whistleblower in an organization that doesn’t care and doesn’t want you to cause trouble either the school board itself (TDSB) or the unions who don’t want to do much but keep their cushy jobs.

          I’ll bet your kids are well behaved so you think the system works and everything is fine but I doubt you’d feel the same if you were a teacher yourself particularly in the schools I know.

    • save. spend. splurge.

      Also, I’d like to know if you’ve talked to teachers, are a parent and/or are involved in the education system in any shape way or form, or if you’re just a regular commenter telling me to shut up and stop bitching on behalf of teachers.

      Unless you actually talk to educators and know them privately / personally, you won’t hear any of this coming out of their mouths.

      • Chris

        As I mentioned in my first reply, most of my university buddies are teachers. One elementary, three high school, one a college prof and one who got his teaching degree but works in a different field. As I said, they work hard and I would be happy to have my kids in any of their classrooms. What I can’t agree with is this “boo-hoo” teachers have it so hard attitude. You identified some real problems, (no fails, helicopter parents) but make it seem like teachers are powerless puppets. I don’t accept that. They have incredible power if they choose to use it.

        • save. spend. splurge.

          My argument is more in the lower grades — elementary, not high school or college, although I heard from professors that they’re receiving essays from students with smiley faces and the most atrocious use of the English language I have ever heard.

          Some teachers DO have it hard. If you are one teacher in a school of teachers where the principal doesn’t want to do her job in suspending students who deserve it and working among other teachers who are lazy/scared/passive don’t want to expose the problems of the school because it just leads to whistleblowing and more hassle where they have to explain themselves and perhaps lose their job or cause friction amongst themselves and others, you end up feeling marginalized and unable to fight because it’s just not worth it.

          What I’ve noticed over the years is that the principal is the one who sets the tone because they have the power to do so.

          If the principal is a good egg, you end up with a fantastically run school, teachers who finally feel like they can do their jobs and a great work environment. Otherwise, the gatekeeper to everything is the principal and if she sets the tone of the school where laziness and cheating is not tolerated, the teachers bear the brunt of the students feeling that they can get away with anything (e.g. iPhones in class, disappearing from the classroom on the pretense of going to the washroom).

          Then from there, it is as you said, up to the teachers to decide but as recently as last year, a teacher complained to me that he tried to give REAL marks for the work submitted by the children and was told it was all too low, so he had to increase all the marks to a pass or higher because that’s what was expected by the parents and the principal didn’t want to deal with them coming in.

          I said the same thing to him you said — why don’t you talk to a union rep? Why don’t you stand up for the marks you feel these kids deserve?

          He told me: It’s not worth the trouble. I did it once and I ended up being demoted to teaching the lower grades for going against the principal. I just want to teach, not cause trouble and end up stressed out over all of this.

  • Lila

    Seriously in France, they really do think that humiliating someone can motivate them? Oh my stars. This reminds me of my father. My biological father would hit my head numerous times, if I ever messed up in math or another subject. He was not a patient man and he was a teacher!

    Although he had never been in the military, he had some strange authoritarian ideas on how to raise children that actually backfired and never helped me. I never responded very well to his cruel tactics. He would try to punish me if I ever messed up. I just ended up hating math and whatever subject he would try to help me with.

    What was very strange, is that his students would come to our home and he would very patiently and diligently help them until they got it. It was sad that I could never have had this kind of help from my own father. He would offer it to his students but not to me.

    My mom would say, “Why can’t you be patient with her the way you are with your students?”

    Needless to say, to this day he and I have a very strained relationship and have not spoken to each other in years. My true father is my step-dad, he is very patient and if I don’t get something, he is all “Well hon, you see here is how you do it. Now take your time…”

    My S.O is the same way. He’s a very patient guy.

    • save. spend. splurge.

      It’s twisted in France.

      I also think helping kids is great but not if they start resenting / fearing you. Corporal punishment doesn’t work especially in situations that require learning and patience. It’s all messed up that he would treat you so badly.. but thinking it was for your own good.

  • A

    I’ve been teaching for 9 months (English in Korea) and there is definitely helicopter parenting here too. However, related to the ‘fear of failing your kid’ attitude of teachers, I think it really depends on how much the teacher dislikes the kid’s attitude or work ethic. I’ve socialized with many foreigners here, almost all of whom teach. Some have never had teaching experience before, some were professional teachers back home, some work in private academies where you don’t need previous teaching experience, some work in the national universities here and are quite respected.

    This is a recurring topic when talking about work here. Sometimes you give a kid a lower grade but they still pass, sometimes you shrug and just give them the higher grade and avoid the headaches. But one thing I’ve noticed is that if a teacher really, really hates a kid’s attitude (they are disrespectful or absolutely the most disruptive in every class) or their work ethic (not doing work or studying or coming up with excuses instead; for example, I remember a story of a kid who threw away his homework so he “never had it” so he “can’t do it, teacher”) then they are much more likely to fail the kid without hesitation. It is then left up to the administration’s job to decide what to do. Unless the course is optional, they have a hard time of explaining to other parents why the kid who failed got advanced to the same class as their kid who got the highest mark.

    I will add that I’ve heard university kids here take their studies seriously so that will likely not happen there, but everything high school and down is fair game. Also, foreign teachers mercilessly failing Korean kids probably doesn’t do much towards improving international relations either. 😛

  • getrichwithme

    Here in the UK kids have to sit national tests at ages 6/7 10/11 and 13/14 to monitor their progress and to manage the performance of teachers.
    Many people hate them because they say its unfair to pressurise the kids into exam passing at such an young age. But my eldest did the tests and it never bothered him only bothered his teachers who get in a right flap because they are being judged
    I wish we had these tests when i was at school, because the standard of teaching was so low in state schools
    As for badly behaved kids – they just got kicked out and their parents dragged in to school to explain their childrens behaviour.
    Even though most of the teachers were just in it for the long holidays etc they still commanded respect from society. Something that they dont do now.

    • save. spend. splurge.

      Ahh.. teachers get judged for not producing geniuses too!

      I did not have any of those standardized tests to check to see how we were progressing.

      Here, badly behaved kids are tolerated and accommodated because their parents come in screaming a blue storm and saying the teacher should be fired etc etc.. it’s never their child’s fault.

      It’s rare and refreshing to hear parents come in when their child is acting up and to promise to have them behave better in the future, then to thank the teacher for letting them know. (I am going to be such a parent..)

  • MelD

    LOL, you knew I’d be in on this one, right?! 😉

    Well, folks, Canada/US are crazy with this attitude – I know from a friend who used to live here with her family and then went back to CDA that her kids are all going to college and they would never have done so out of our Swiss system, which was clear when they were in primary school. One son is a total refuser who just wouldn’t do assignments, they are all stubborn kids and haven’t always had good grades but they always got so many chances and now – college. And some of the subjects they “study” are simply laughable.

    That doesn’t work here, and expat parents are so horrified – in fact, cantons like Zurich or Geneva with a high proportion of educated foreigners have other policies in schools for some things and give the parents more say, or else they use private schools (bad reputation here as schools for slackers and difficult kids…). Not so where we are. If you fail a grade, you fail a grade. Whether that is Kindergarten, 6th grade or in one of your secondary school years (there are 3, 7-9th grade) or in uni-prep (4 years). Kids are graded for their work in primary school (some only from 4th grade) and in secondary school you only have 3 tests in a subject like biology or history in the whole semester and your final grade is based on that – you can’t afford to fail a single test! Usually there is no grade for just being in the class or even participation and classwork, just homework and tests and it’s very important. The emphasis is on language and maths, sciences and social sciences are marginal. They don’t put kids down like in French schools, but the kids are very aware of how important their grades are. Thanks for the explanation of the Dutch system – ours is similar. Our grading goes from 6 to 1 (6 is best – in Germany it’s the other way round, which is why they say Einstein was a bad student – he got 6s in a Swiss system and the Germans thought he failed – urban myth!!). You have to have a 5 average to even be considered for a higher level of school, though a 4.5 average will usually get you into the next grade. The system of an exam at 11 used to be in England (known as the 11-plus), and was a very good thing but they “reformed” the system (and have done so repeatedly over the last 45 years to no good end…). Here, if you want to go the uni-prep school, it’s an entrance exam at 14/15 in German, French and Maths and you have to get a good average (4.5-5) to be accepted and then you’re on trial every semester, being provisional one semester can result in expulsion the following semester if grades aren’t kept up. Parents cannot argue with the numbers.
    One thing I’m not completely agreeing with you is on how much influence you have on “training” your kid to be a good student. I know you have an Asian background and perhaps that affects your thinking (and I’m not saying that is bad!!). For us, we just found each child to be very different, both in ability and attitude, and for our highly intelligent daughter who was extremely lazy when it came to schoolwork, nothing I could say or do would make her less lazy! She could easily have got 6s in everything but simply wasn’t interested in some subjects and wouldn’t do the necessary work. The consequence is that she did a lower level of school where she was more bored than ever and did not qualify for university, where she clearly belonged, as she is a highly academic-thinking individual… now in her 20s, she has begun studying at home – she just “hated” French and Maths and I’m amused that she is now happily studying French, Japanese and philosophy on her own. As she is not at all materialistic, it doesn’t bother her that income is low but her intellectual skills are pushing her on regardless. I’m not really surprised. Sometimes you just have to let kids be what they will be.
    Her older sister was bright and motivated but kids need time to be kids and the year she turned 18, school was last on her list, so she ended up repeating that year of uni-prep – by that time, it was up to her, as from 17/18 kids are expected to be responsible for themselves by the school and you don’t intervene as a parent after the age of 16 anyway (and from 18 you have no access to information, as the kid is of age – you don’t even get to see the reports if the kid doesn’t want to show you!). This daughter had time for music and to work various part-time jobs from the age of 11 because she enjoyed it and remains a happy and busy person with multiple interests.
    My youngest daughter is not at all academic and was never in line for a uni-prep, she worked as hard as she could but never made good grades and now is happy doing her apprenticeship as a seamstress as she likes fashion and still has plenty of options for the future. If I had tried to push her into uni-prep, she would have suffered a great deal; at 18 she is still quite immature in many ways. She repeated the first year of secondary school at 13, which was definitely a good thing and she benefitted from sympathetic treatment. It wasn’t traumatic because there are always a few who will be repeating and it’s not unusual to have mixed ages in a class, here, due to the system.
    Teachers here are complaining about kids and parents, too, but they would really open their eyes if they saw how school is done as you describe – parents are welcome to visit classes as onlookers at school but not to be involved in any way (no class moms etc.). Woe betide any parent who tries to oppose a teacher’s opinion of a student – they won’t even confirm high ability unless the grades are there to prove it (which our lazy daughter refused to supply!). I am the daughter of non-Swiss teachers and found that in this country, they are a VERY different animal. They are there to impart knowledge and not to coddle kids on who are weak, that’s up to the parents to supply extra teaching either themselves or to pay for it, otherwise, repeat the grade or be put into a lower level of school. When my dad taught in a Swiss school, he was amazed that kids would not come to him with questions, but only discuss among themselves and yet be totally anxious about their grades all the time!
    I think I have said before that there is no perfect system. But I have to say I prefer a system that has reality at the end of the line rather than one that provides flimsy qualifications in basically nothing at the end of it… Yes, there is a trend toward helicopter parenting, which I have never seen in context as anything other than negative (someone would boast about it??!) and over-protection, but really, surely school is about integrating kids into real life?! That is why our kids all still have cooking and life skills on their curriculum…
    And by the way, not all “online degrees” are crap – I myself did an Open University degree that was anything but multiple choice; it involved summer school and tough written assignments to hand in monthly (9 mths in an academic year) plus a hefty exam at the end of each module, so I am probably more proud of the BA I got at 43 than if I’d just followed a track to a brick university at 18, as so many others did, and where most spent the majority of their time getting drunk and partying. Just saying. As a mother of several children I did not have the option of attending a local brick university and so the OU was a great option for me to be flexible with my time and get a degree in 5 years of hard work (a Certificate in Humanities followed by a diploma in French, History of Medicine and International Studies).
    Anyway, I’ll shut up now!! ;o

    • save. spend. splurge.

      I have to clarify that if a child makes the choice to NOT work in school and is okay with their low grades, plus accepting the consequences that come with that, I’m all for it.

      It’s when I hear of children that are being taught, complaining and whining about the workload and expecting to do NOTHING in class but to get a high grade and pass on, is when I get annoyed. They can’t accept that they just can’t show up and do nothing but expect to be the top of their class. That’s more what I meant.

      I’m not surprised that ex-pats are horrified at the schooling system in Europe. I hear from Canadian / American parents in Europe all the time and they’re confused as to why their child is not being put on a pedestal and glorified as the mini budding genius that he/she clearly is. /sarcasm

      I think it’s a really good culture that you can teach children to care about their grades and to understand how important it is to succeed rather than to have to coax, wheedle and force them into caring. In the book I read – Were You Born on the Wrong Continent?: How the European Model Can Help You Get a Life — he mentions meeting a German teenager who looked like a punk rocker on the train.. but the kid was reading this massive book FOR FUN! Not even for school. He then questioned the kid about why he was reading for fun and the kid looked at him and said something about wanting to do the work to study hard and to be well-rounded and prepared for university.

      I like the idea of a realistic system as well. You’d be surprised at how many parents here boast of being helicopter parents. There’s even a blog called: Helicopter Mom.

      Hmm.. You’ve made me rethink this online degree situation, but from my experience here you basically just show up, pay your $$ and get the degree. There’s no real studying or work involved.

      • MelD

        @save. spend. splurge.: Yes, I know there are some rubbish online studies – same Canadian friend “studied” to be a vet assistant doing multiple choice for a few months; my eldest daughter was training for same here (she had qualified for uni but preferred to do this and was able to do it in 18 mths instead of 3 years – those are the kind of chances you get!) and could see what a huge difference there was and esp with no practical experience doing it online – of course said friend didn’t get a job as a vet asst when she returned to CDA, she just did some office work in a vet practice… So I agree there, worthless qualification!!
        As for the punk- that is pretty typical, I find. Those who go all out to outwardly rebell often have real thinking behind it – another friend’s son is a punk and has had to learn that his appearance is provocative to others and if he wants to be taken seriously, he will have to make other efforts. This is a kid who is intensely aware of social inequality and although he is presently training to be an industrial plumber, he will probably end up going on to study for something social or judicial 😉
        (Having said that, English punks etc. tend to just be about being loudmouthed – not ever seen much behind the various fassades there!! It’s just a subtle cultural difference, I guess…)

  • Andrew@LivingRichCheaply

    I haven’t been in school in awhile and I don’t have kids in school. But I do have a coworker who is a big time helicopter mom. Teachers have enough to deal with already and those moms make it very difficult on them. Sometimes kids need to fight their own battles and to take responsibility. How else will they be prepared for the real world.

  • Sarah

    I apologize for not completely reading your article (it was longer than what you usually write). I do generally agree with your views on French parenting. I believe this leads French children to be better behaved than the average North American child. However, I do not agree with the statement that Canadian children fare worse than French children on standardized testing (testing Math, Science and reading). There is limited data to support it. Also, I think the French system of tracking (separately children into University track and trade track) doesn’t enhance learning. I recently read a book called the smartest children in the world. In this book, the author actually shows data that tracking later (late in high school) enhances the performance of the kids in both the trade track and University track. Now, let me add my personal experience. I went to public school in Markham, Ontario (I am roughly two years younger than you). I can assure you than I failed several Math and Physics tests during high school. No teachers were ‘scared’ of failing me. My parents were extremely involved in my education (less helicoptering, more in an immigrant tiger parent). I went to University and later got my PhD in a STEM field from an ivy league school in the US. I am extremely prolific and successful in my field. Also, I am not an exception from my high school. Several people have done equally well.

    • save. spend. splurge.

      Not a problem — I skim my own posts sometimes. 🙂

      Hmm. I wonder if it’s just in my area then. I’m also including elementary schools in this by the way. You can’t fail in elementary and it’s starting to seep over into high school based on what I am told by teachers who are getting headaches dealing with parents who want their kids to have 100% perfect grades to apply to colleges.

      And my “research” is talking to teachers who teach these kids. I don’t have statistics or anything formal, it’s all based on anecdotes.

      • Sarah

        @save. spend. splurge.: I think your assessment may be fairer, especially when you bring elementary schools into the mix. I agree it is pretty difficult to fail elementary school kids even where I live.

        • save. spend. splurge.

          Elementary schools are one of the worst. Even kids who can’t read, aren’t really held back. I’ve seen kids reach grade 3 and still struggle to read.

  • Bridget


    I don’t really have anything else to say because you said it all!!!

  • Aleksie

    Overall, I agree. This’ll probably scare you, but I see the coddling at the university level. I’ve had supervisors get upset that I don’t hand out A’s; my lowest grades in those situations have been C’s or even once a B/B+. The majority of grades in those situations were A’s.

    I think there is research that suggests not allowing people to fail is horribly detrimental to their self esteem. There is also similar research re. helicopter parenting.

    The only things I’m not sure about are the filtering and testing. One professor of mine made a good point that one of the nice things in the US (and probably other places, just he was talking about this country) is that you do get second chances. I’m not suggesting pass all the kids, but I think it would be a shame if people were filtered out for being irresponsible 5 year olds. I’ve seen many people (typically, people with less than ideal home lives) turn it around go off to make something of themselves.

    With testing, at least in the US, people aren’t test holistically. I’m not trying to undermine standards, but there are people I know who could pass any exam you give them. In a real life situation, good luck with getting them to use that knowledge. Similarly, I think there is something to be said about hard work and potential. I’ve had friends who did really well in something but then hit a wall in whatever it was they were learning; they didn’t really learn how to deal with learning something new. The people who weren’t initially good at that skill ended up surpassing them.

    It’s all so complicated. We really need decent standards and a way to truly measure things.

    • save. spend. splurge.

      I can tell you firsthand that if you bitch you can get a higher grade in college. I have done it myself asking a professor to increase my grade, although it was because I really felt that my particularTeaching Assistant was grading everyone too hard compared to other students who had different TAs. I had compared our essays and someone who did minimal research got a much higher grade than I did which upset me.

      I agree that second chances are why people leave their home countries in Europe. BF left for that reason, he hated France’s strict rules and regulations but acknowledges / appreciates the good parts of it too.

      AS mentioned by a commenter, they filter out at age 11/12 – 16.. I think that is far too young at 11/12 to filter a child. I’d have probably set the bar at 17/18.

      • Aleksie

        In the cases I’m thinking of it, it was really the person not doing the work or submitting it beyond late. It’s remarkable to have the gall to complain. I’m not opposed to cases where students have a good reason, but I don’t know if I’ve seen one yet.

        The parents stay involved in college; I thankfully haven’t had to deal with this, but even at my age (and I suspect we’re close to the same age), people would have their parents call to talk to the professors. Many colleges even have special orientations for the parents. A friend’s mother told me that the parents sometimes break down and cry at these things, because they’re that attached to their now adult children.

        • save. spend. splurge.

          You’re telling me! I was surprised that he raised my grade, I was just expecting to talk to him and tell him that I found the standard of grading inconsistent and unfair.

          (I’m 31 now.. ) 🙂

          I can’t imagine breaking down and crying at a college orientation just because I can’t let go of my child. It does not bode well for their future if I’m like that.

  • Kathy

    Positively outstanding article. It is very much the same in the States. I read somewhere that in Europe schools are excessively hard and working is excessively easy. In the states, schools are excessively easy and working is excessively hard. I don’t know if that is totally accurate, but I do see some truth in it. I do think that in the U.S. at least, vocational education gets a bad rap. It should absolutely be extended, supported and enhanced because not everyone is cut out for university education. We will always need plumbers, electricians, auto mechanics etc. and directing appropriate students toward that path will result in much more productive and engaged students.

    • save. spend. splurge.

      I want a balance between the two. NEITHER continent has the right formula but we are leaning way too far into the liberal sphere of things. It’s becoming out of control.

  • CorianneM

    Oh my, that sounds bad indeed! I can’t believe living life having never failed at anything, even if it were only in school. Those moments are the ones I remember best now and that I learnt the most from. For example, in my fourth year in high school I just did not get physics at all. I got good grades for the rest of my subjects but I kept scoring 4 out of 10 (on average) for my physics test. I worked really hard at it. My teacher tutored me and another classmate who had the same miserable average as me for 1-2 hours a week the rest of the school year. In the last week, I had two physics tests and I managed to get just above 6 out of 10. I remember being so so happy with the results. They were not high grades or even good grades – barely passed the tests. BUT I passed them through lots of hard work and practice. Those 6s were more valuable to me than any of the other grades I got.

    In the Netherlands, as in France, children are filtered out as well. Elementary school is the same for everyone. In the last year of elementary school, pupils do a standardized test. Your teacher will use the results of that test and his/her own experience with you to give an advice for what level of high school to attend.
    The level of high school you enter into decides already what kind of higher education you will attend later on. There are roughly three tracks: (1) VMBO – lasts 4 years and prepares you for vocational colleges in higher education (called MBO); (2) HAVO – lasts 5 years, slightly more selective, and prepares for higher professional training in higher education at universities of applied sciences (called HBO, and mostly focused on professional training); (3) VWO – lasts 6 years, more selective and rigorous, and prepares for university degrees at research universities (called WO).

    You can only graduate from your high school tracks if you pass the central examinations (which are administered on a national level). Half your grade comes from school examinations and half your grade comes from this ONE exam at the end of your last year of high school. If you don’t pass all these exams, you would have to repeat the year. Even if teachers would give passing grades to failing students, this practice would never be successful, as these students would probably be unable to pass the central examinations. Schools also strive to get high percentages for their graduating classes (100% of your students graduating being the ultimate goal of course). Especially for HAVO and VWO these percentages can be really high, as some students are encouraged to go into a ‘lower’ and easier track, because either they are struggling really hard with the coursework or because they are lazy, etc.

    There is always some criticism that the division starts too early, because when kids are 11 or 12 years old they are put into a high school track that will mostly decide where they will end up in in the working world. Of course, if you are really motivated you can end up somewhere else, but mostly these tracks reflect matching of abilities to education. VMBO can be seen as preparing for more practical vocations, where people work with their hands. A lot of people ending up in this track ‘hate’ school and learning and would probably shudder at the thought of having to spend all their time with their noses in books! Children who end up in VWO are the smart ones or the ones who know how to work hard for their grades. They don’t mind spending their time with lots of books and are more able to quickly digest information. They are also more likely to succeed at university.

    One last thing (this has become a really really long comment, but you asked for it yourself! 😉 ): the actual grades handed out. The points range from 1-10. They don’t depend on the rest of your class, but on how many points you scored right on the test. I only ever received 10 out of 10 for vocabulary tests where it’s very easy to determine if you got everything right. Anything that requires a bit more interpretation or more elaborate answers, it is very VERY rare to get 9 out of 10. You’d be more likely to get 8 out of 10 – that’s already very high and very exceptional. This goes for every level of education, even university. Especially at university, you will never score perfect 10 for anything. I remember talking about it with my friend from the Czech Republic who followed a Bachelor programme in the Netherlands. She was very surprised at the Dutch grading system. Even when her essays were very good, she almost never got more than 8 out of 10 and for her this was not that high, as in Czech they would give out 9 or 10 if it was really good. So at first she was very disappointed, wondering where she went wrong when her essay was near-perfect, but when she got to know the Dutch grading system better, she understood that 8 was actually an extremely good mark for your essay.

    • save. spend. splurge.

      They give you advice but they don’t force you into a high school right? Or do you have to sit for an exam to get into certain schools?

      When I was in high school I NEVER sat for a standardized test or anything to confirm that I had the basic knowledge of a high school degree. I found that unbelievable.

      In France I remember BF would cheer if he got an 18/20 in Math which is considered brilliant as a mark…. Even if it was perfect, it’s never perfect enough which I find very discouraging in the French system.

      • CorianneM

        It’s advice, but it’s a deciding factor for high school to admit a pupil. As the advice is both based on an objective factor (the standardized test) and a subjective component (the teacher’s experience with a pupil: how independent is he/she when working? does he/she learn quickly or slowly? how motivated is he/she?), it’s generally quite accurate.

        I believe high schools mostly base their decision on this advice and according to the Ministry of Education, schools need to have good reasons to NOT admit a student. Even though it’s legally allowed to have entry exams, I haven’t heard much about them.

        Even if parents wanted to put their children in a higher level when they score really low and their elementary school teacher advises against it, it would be hard to enter them in a too high level. In all cases, parents can talk to the teachers and the high school to convince them otherwise. Most of the time, though, parents follow the advice.

        As children are only 11/12 at the time, some high schools offer combined first-year programmes to defer the decision for one more year. For example, I went to a high school where year 1 was a combination of HAVO/VWO. After year 1, based on your scores and your work ethic, you got the advice to go through to the HAVO, VWO or VWO/Gymnasium (this ‘elite’ track includes Latin, Ancient Greek and Classical Studies) programmes.

        18/20! That sounds like an amazing grade! Perhaps not for North Americans, but I would’ve cheered as well. I remember I got 9,5 for my maths central examination. As my highest mark in that subject was around 7,5, I immediately ran to the teacher to ask if there had been any mistake in the grading because I just couldn’t believe I could’ve done that well.

        • save. spend. splurge.

          11/12 is really young to be filtered out in my opinion. I think in France BF told me it is 16 years old..

          (He loves math, which is why Baby Bun has no choice but to love math as well in the future 🙂 )

  • Clarisse @ Make Money Your Way

    This is one of the best posts that I have ever read! Parents are the first teacher of their children and they are responsible for their actions. My seven-year old daughter, when she arrived from school, I reviewed her notes and asked about her assignment. In fact, she has her violin class twice a week and asked her to practice it too.

    • save. spend. splurge.

      As a new mother I am very keenly aware now of how much of a role I play in my kid’s development and learning. I don’t want to hover and force them to do things, and I want them to learn and grow on their own, so the balance between being a hands-on parent and a supportive parent is a difficult one.

      Kids also follow what their parents do. If you read and are interested in learning, your kids will be too.

      You basically have to show that you care.

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