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Parenting Vs. Tutoring: American Promise

I recently had the chance to watch an amazing documentary on PBS about two extremely brave families. American Promise is the story of two families who navigate through life attempting to provide their sons with the best education that they can. Even if you do not have children, it is a must-see movie. I am in awe at the courage that it must have taken show the not-so-perfect moments and conversations that happen in all families when the doors are shut.

It was quite notable that Idris’ parents preferred to put in the work with their son, as opposed to the school suggested tutoring program. They created a schedule and put in a large amount of time with Idris after school daily. My childless boyfriend and I went into a long conversation about the committment that it takes to parent because it appeared that these families lives revolved around the children completely.

One thing that stood out is how the parents were not necessarily equipped with the proper tools to teach their child, not academically, but emotionally. Name calling, yelling, frustration and degrading the student are frowned upon from educators so it is not healthy for the student to endure it at home during homework time either. When you are teaching your own child it makes it easier to resort to these behaviors because it is your own child. Idris resorted to thinking something was wrong with him and that he needed medication when he WAS indeed performing in school.

When you make homework time more stressful than it already is, you inevitably deter the student from learning to enjoy the acquisition of knowledge. The goal of education is not to earn an A on everything and get into an Ivy League school. The goal of education is to become knowledgeable, gain intelligence and learn to think. If the student has learned the concepts on the assignment and put in as much effort as they could, then they are successful at the assignment. Success does not always show up dressed in the grade “A”.

Life doesn't come with a handbook, which is why I love documentaries and autobiographies. We can learn from others and do better.


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