Education School problems bigger than schools
NNSL (OCT 25/96) - Parents aren't taking their share of responsibility for many of the problems schools face with delinquent children.

That's the opinion of Edmonton educator and psychologist Lou Yaniw, who paid a visit to Mildred Hall school recently.

Yaniw has taken to the road to lecture teachers and parents about ways to deal with student delinquency.

Yaniw said the main problem in schools is that educators are expected to teach the social skills children used to learn at home.

"Parents used to send children to school to learn, not to behave," he said. "Schools are now expected to teach everything from reading, writing and arithmetic to behavioral and social skills to sex and drug education."

Many of the delinquency problems in schools, he said, are the result of an educational agenda that tries to do too many things. "Ultimately it's the parents' responsibility for their child," he said. "And I believe most parents are doing an admirable job in raising their kids. But it's the increasing number of dysfunctional families that lead to the problems."

Yaniw doesn't blame the parents, but insists that there has to be more co-operation between parents and schools in order to combat problems of violence and verbal abuse that are becoming commonplace in schools across the country.

"Educators have to look at an inter-disciplinary community of support," he said. "Community and school services have to collectively decide what can be done. Schools can't do it alone."

Bob Faith, principal of Mildred Hall school, said Yaniw's visit was educational for the teachers. The school has since set up a committee to implement many of his suggestions.

He too said educators have to deal with many problems that don't originate in the schools, but maintains they have to do everything they can to improve the learning environment.

"He (Yaniw) identified several things that we could be doing better,' he said. "We are doing things relatively well, but we would like to strive for excellence."

Yaniw pointed to three main areas where discipline might be improved -- consistency of enforcement, communication between teachers and parents, and effective supervision.

The six-teacher committee will be devising ways to improve in all three areas.

Faith, who is a member of the committee, said the session with Yaniw helped them identify where their problems lie and show them ways of dealing with them.

Yaniw said parents have to work with educators, social services and police to devise ways of dealing with problem youth.

"It's important for people to learn that the problems in schools today are much bigger than the schools themselves," he said. "They involve the whole community. And will take the whole community working together to resolve the problems."

Faith agreed parents and teachers have to come together to solve many of the problems schools face.