‘How important are parent-teacher conferences? Discuss.’ By Jibraeil Aatif Anwar

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Now, it is a known fact that parent-teacher conferences are those conferences between the parents of the students and the teachers. It is commonly accepted that, through these conferences, a greater understanding of the student’s strengths and weaknesses is fostered, leading to higher grades, more happiness for the student, and more satisfaction for the parents and the teachers. Like any kind of topic, however, it is a controversial one, with some people arguing for it, and the rest arguing against it. What leads to these disagreements, is what we are about to find out via what I am going to say next.

Firstly, people for the topic argue, as pointed out before, that parent-teacher conferences lead to a mutual understanding of the student’s strengths and weaknesses, and how to improve on those weaknesses. Basically, both the parent and the teacher are frustrated at a student’s performance. They are not greatly aware of what they have to do in order to overcome this; however, through talking with each other, venting their feelings to each other, and discussing solutions with each other, they believe that their problems will be easily solved. At least eighty-nine percent of the population in the USA, the biggest economy in the world, agree with this, giving the opinion that it is, truly, an effective solution to their current problems. Through my own personal experiences, I believe this to be true, as these conferences have helped me greatly when I was at my lowest at school.

On the other hand, what about the other eleven percent? They, on the other hand, are the naysayers, who believe that these parent-teacher conferences have lead to a greater misunderstanding of the student’s problems; a great belief is present that the parent and the teacher fail to truly understand the student, only causing them more trouble, and that the student will crumble under the anxiety of having to be judged by the two. In their opinion, it would be better to visit a psychologist, psychiatrist or doctor. As much as I like parent-teacher conferences, I also remember how helpful psychologists were to me, in helping me to overcome my personal problems.

To follow up on this argument, a second argument is present; namely, that parent-teacher conferences are not as frightening as going to any psychologist currently present, mainly for the fact that psychologists can be… somewhat intense, and very strict in their methods sometimes. There is a more optimistic approach in parent-teacher conferences, the supporters of this topic say, that the teacher would not be as hard on them, and would not be quick to diagnose the student with any mental illness, disease or psychological problem. This opinion is, to add on to whatever has been said, shared by at least seventy-eight percent of the population in the world, and I can testify to that due to my own experiences with psychologists; they were not very, well, savory, to say the least, and they always left me trembling in fear as to the next method to be used against me to cure my illnesses.

And, yet, people who are strongly opposed to this topic, twenty-two percent of the world’s population, disagree with this statement, stating that psychologists are not as bad as they seem, that teachers, with their misunderstanding of the student, may end up doing more harm than good. Why? Because it is their thinking that psychologists, through their approaches, are showing ‘tough love’ to the student, and are far better at solving the student’s problems. These critics point towards the great experience that psychologists have had in similar conferences. I agree with this, mainly because greater experience with personal problems is a fact that cannot be denied, and also because my own experiences with psychologists did, somewhat, have a good kind of effect on my mental state, through that approach known to many as ‘tough love.’

People in favor of this topic point towards the last, but certainly not the least, argument for this topic: parent-teacher conferences are short and momentary. The advice given through them still remains for the student’s long-term living, but, once a parent-teacher conference is done, it is done. In this way, quick, effective solutions to the student’s problems can be found, rather than the very long-term, repeated, stress-inducing therapies of the psychologists, which keep on happening almost every week. In this way, whatever is wrong with the student can be quickly solved, and the principle of “forgive and forget” would be applied, allowing the student to let go of their past mistakes, and look towards the future, aiming to achieve better than they ever had before in their life. This is something I can definitely testify to, as I have seen this approach dealt to many of my friends, which, in turn, lent them success; sixty-five percent of the students in the world agree to this.

What of this argument, though? The people who are greatly obsessed with dismantling this argument, the other thirty-five percent, point out that short, effective solutions have never worked out for anything, let alone a child’s problems in studies. They also point out that therapy, however long and intense it may be, would have long-term solutions to go along with the long-term trials. These people, filled with deep hatred of this argument, are also against the “forgive and forget” principle, believing that a student needs to keep their past mistakes in mind all the time, if they have any hope of overcoming these and becoming a better person. This is yet another reason why they are opposed to short, effective solutions, and, looking at some therapies that many of my friends underwent, I partially agree to this.

Generally, however, in the briefest way possible, I would say that parent-teacher conferences are, for the most part, helpful in helping a student to overcome their problems. Of course, they can be quite stressful sometimes, but, as reliable as psychology and therapy seem, they are twice as stressful, and parent-teacher conferences may cheer up the student, and end up encouraging them to set deadlines for themselves, which I cannot see happening with psychology or therapy.

About froebelianwriters

I am an English Language teacher teaching O'Levels Edexcel and CIE A Levels at Froebel's International School, Islamabad. I am also working as a Subject Specialist Literacy consultant for the same school. Writing and reading has always been a passion and I try my utmost to instill these habits and hobbies in my students as well. I can be reached/contacted at fabbas227@hotmail.com or 03365287335 Happy reading!

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