Published online by Cambridge University Press: 05 June 2015
It is widely recognized that the quality of parenting is important in determining a student's success in school. Indeed, it may be the single most important factor in promoting that success. Yet while we insist – in the name of equal opportunity – that all students must study algebra, we stubbornly refuse to teach parenting in our high schools. Admittedly, there are difficulties in making such a move. Some critics insist that instruction on parenting belongs in the home (another example of the bureaucratic thinking that pervades public life). Others argue that only some students require this instruction, and their identification would be another example of blaming the victim, of singling out kids who are already economically disadvantaged. Still others would dismiss the very idea as anti-intellectual and demand to know what important subject matter would be displaced to make room in the school day for a course on parenting.
I am not recommending that we add a course on parenting to an already full academic program, and I certainly do not advocate singling out those students who, we suspect, are especially in need of such instruction. Rather, in the spirit of what has preceded this chapter, I suggest that we recognize the supreme importance of parenting in human life and ask how each subject already in the curriculum can contribute to the development of better parents. In addressing themes related to parenting, I do not suggest that we teach how to feed and bathe infants, change diapers, and establish regular visits to the pediatrician. These things are important for new parents, of course, and classes should be available for teenage mothers and others who need immediate help. But I am talking here about the deeper meanings of parenting and homemaking that we discussed in Chapter 4. It is a matter of connecting school subjects with the central aspects of human life, of bringing real meaning to the school curriculum.