You've seen the commercials: It's never to early to talk to your kids about drugs. Parents role play how to talk to their son about pot. It's cheesy, but not a bad message, obviously. However, Intel announced last week that they found parents were far more willing (and able) to talk to their kids about drugs than they were about science and math.
Science topics, as it turns out, are poorly understood by too many parents. As the Intel study pointed out,
Despite a perceived importance of math and science for success, and an overwhelming willingness to be involved, the survey results reveal that parents, particularly those of teenagers, often find themselves with little more understanding of these subjects than their children and without the necessary resources to bridge this gap.
How many parents do you know who are in this boat? How many parents simply can't help their kids with their math/science homework? It might be a lack of education, unfamiliar approaches to teaching math, or simply a long lapse since they gave much thought to algebra, photosynthesis, or electron valence shells.
This is echoed by a couple of key findings in the Intel study:
Nearly a quarter of parents (23 percent) who admit to being less involved in their child's math and science education than they would like say their own lack of knowledge in these subjects is a key barrier.
Another 26 percent of parents who are less involved than they would like wish there was a one-stop shop with materials to refresh their existing, but unused math and science knowledge so they can better help their kids.
So what does this mean for us? Parents must be part of the solution as we seek to address growing achievement gaps in math and science education between American students and their foreign counterparts. Technology provides one heck of a vehicle for parent education to addressing parent educational needs in a cost effective manner.
What can we do?
- Create video repositories of key class lectures that parents can access
- Provide parents with access to electronic, supplemental materials that come with many of our texts
- Link parents to relevant coursework in MIT's OpenCourseware and similar repositories
- Provide teachers with web-based and multimedia tools to post course notes, lectures, etc., that both parents and students can access
What else are you doing to provide as much "PD" for your parents as you do for your teachers?