The World's Largest Parents Evening: Why and How Parents Should Get Involved in Education
In January 2017 the world’s largest parents evening will take place in Finland. Every school throughout the country has the opportunity to take part, and they will all gather on the 18th of January at the same time, from 6:00pm to 7:30pm.
The event will be organized in partnership with the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture, the Finnish Board of Education, the Finnish Parent’s League, the Association of Finnish Local and Regional Authorities, the Trade Union of Education and HundrED.
The program consists of three approximately five minute long videos and clear instructions in how to initiate the conversation. There will also be an interactive classroom session to activate parents even more. The exact framework of the evening won’t be released until the winter school holidays, but the details will help to simplify the organization of the event in the schools.
To make it accessible and possible for every school to take part, the requirements are simple. All a school needs is a space for everyone to gather which has the technology required to show the videos. Principals and teachers are encouraged to prepare themselves for the evening by going through the program and topics of discussion.
Now more than ever education needs to change. We have previously written about how and why education needs to change, and how little it has since it was established in the industrial age. When we spoke to Kristiina Kumpulainen, professor of pedagogy at the University of Finland, she described this issue in detail.
‘Society and the demands of the workforce are changing at a rapid rate as well as our perception of what to teach children and what they need to know to survive. Additionally, the world of children and young people outside of schools has changed, and so the school environment, teaching methods and the content aren’t relatable or inspiring to them any longer which creates motivational problems.’
Schools have to adapt to the current climate recognizing that with the rise of technology and the impact of globalization the skills children need have evolved and will continue to do so at a rapid rate. Schools need to include skills such an empathy in their curriculums, look into new areas such as wellbeing, and update their learning environments to help inspire learning to happen.
Parents play an important role in this change. The aim for the World’s Largest Parent’s Evening is to commit and inspire parents across Finland to participate in the changes happening in schools.
At HundrED we believe that the change should and can come from the ground up. That includes parents along with students and teachers.
By activating parents to get involved in their child’s education, older generations can be in touch with what’s important for children to learn today and how to learn it, bridging the generational gap.
The world has changed exponentially in the last few decades, and education needs to keep up with that. Therefore, when we talk about education, we have to innovate it and help it to grow with the rest of society. We can’t let it stagnate, which means that schools and learning will look and feel different to when parents were in school and we want to make that change approachable and understandable to parents.
Through this, parents can be a part of the solution and it empowers families to actively seek the best for their children, as well as ignite change for future generations of school children too.
Education is everyone’s responsibility, as Jennifer Camulli, Head of Coordinated Student Services at the International School of Macao, explains, ‘Inclusive education is not as simple as stating that ‘everyone has a place in the classroom’ and then has to cope. It is a group effort about meeting the needs of individual students.’
As education professionals argue the case to change education from a standardised system to a personalised system, it makes more sense now than ever to include parents. We need their insight into their child to help inspire the personalised change in schools, plus it is an opportunity for them to better connect and understand their child.
Parents’ Role in Education
It has been suggested that it is parenting, rather than schools which have the biggest impact on a student’s future prospects and results. There’s even an app that has been developed to improve parenting skills so that children are better prepared to start school, helping to close the wealth gap early on by improving the outlooks of children from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Learning doesn’t just happen in schools, we are all learning all the time, that includes at home. Therefore, it is not only teachers who impart wisdom, everyone children come into contact with they are subliminally learning from. Parents, who have the largest effect as any person on their children, are therefore the most important teacher in their lives.
As Kristiina Kumpulainen explains, ‘Schools should also be made more open to society and taught to use the learning environments outside of school.’ Therefore, it is only natural that parents should be involved in the education process, and communication channels between schools and families need to be open and used more effectively.
It stands to reason that using all resources to hand will be the way the greatest change will be established, and parents play a pivotal role. Education is truly everyone’s responsibility and only together will we be able to spark change on the level needed to bring our societies and communities together. The World’s Largest Parent’s Evening is just one way to bridge the gap between parents and schools, and is one example of how to capitalise on the communication possibilities that the rise of technology has afforded us.
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