Should Parenting Training be a 21st Century Skill for our Students?

The Partnership for 21st Century Skills has defined a frame work for 21st century learning.
They believe our core subjects should be broadened and deepened with interdisciplinary themes that explore:
*Global Awareness
*Financial, Economic, Business and Entrepreneurial Literacy
*Civic Literacy
*Health Literacy

The partnership also stresses the need for students to develop skills in the following areas:
Learning and Innovation Skills
*Creativity and Innovation
* Critical Thinking and Problem –Solving
* Communication and Collaboration

Information, Media, and Technology Skills
*Information Literacy
*Media Literacy
*ICT (Information, Communication, and Technology) Literacy

Life and Career Skills
*Flexibility and Adaptability
*Initiative and Self Direction
* Social and Cross Cultural Skills
* Productivity and Accountability
* Leadership and Responsibility

In Disrupting Class, authors Clayton Christensen, Michael Horn , and Curtis Johnson suggest that high school may be the important place for the training of tomorrow’s parents to occur.

The authors present research from Todd Risley and Betty Hart:

…on average parents speak 1500 words per hour to their infant children. ”Talkative”, college educated parents spoke an average of 2,100 while “welfare” parents spoke 600 words per hour. By age 3, children of talkative parents had heard 48 million words while those of welfare parents had heard 13 million.

The most powerful words that promote subsequent cognitive achievement are spoken in the first year of life, when there is no visible evidence that the child is understanding. Children whose parents did not begin speaking seriously to them until the child could speak, roughly age 12 months, suffered a persistent deficit in intellectual capacity, compared to those whose parents were talkative from the beginning.(pg 149)

Hart and Risley describe the words that really matter as “language dancing”, face to face, adult, sophisticated , chatty language as if the child where comprehending and responding to the comments… not business language like a command, ”do this, or time for bed”, but deliberate, uncompromised, personal adult conversation.(pg 151)

The authors of Disrupting Class suggest that rather than funding preschool programs for children who have missed having “talkative parents”, schools might bring greater future learning by investing in teaching children how to be parents before they become parents. Perhaps young, single, intercity mothers could break multigenerational cycles of poverty and underachievement by knowing how to shape early interactions with their children to help them succeed in school. Professional couples of the future, anxious to return to careers, may make better- informed choices with parenting training as part of their high school curriculum.

Perhaps parenting skills fit in the health literacy area of 21st century skills. Maybe this is a step toward “every child ready for school”?

More in a future posting regarding the systemic change thinking presented in Disrupting Class…

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2 Responses to “ Should Parenting Training be a 21st Century Skill for our Students? ”

  1. Neil Rothman Says:

    Dear Steve,
    I have another suggestion. Carl Rodgers said that half the bad marriages and divorces in America could be prevented if boys and girls were forced to share a locker during high school. Since a huge percentage of our students will be spending most of their adult lives married, how about some instruction on how to live successfully with another person? (And I don’t mean sex education.)

  2. Stephen G. Barkley Says:

    Neil….. good point.. there are quite a few life skills that are very important.. and by in large skipped at school or left to chance.
    Steve

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Steve Barkley

For the past 30 years, Steve has served as a consultant to school districts, teacher organizations, state departments of education, and colleges and universities nationally and internationally, facilitating the changes necessary for them to reach students and successfully prepare them for the 21st century. Read more…

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