Education

Study Says: Obnoxious Parents=Burnt Out Teachers

By Kevin Bushweller — January 02, 2008 1 min read

Tara Parker-Pope, the author of a new health blog at the New York Times, points to an interesting study of teachers in Germany. It suggests that overly demanding parents, not unruly students or long hours, might be the biggest reason why teachers lose their motivation to teach and eventually quit the profession.

I am sure many former teachers in the United States would agree. And, in fact, some had strong opinions to voice in response to Parker-Pope’s posting of the study findings. Their comments are worth reading because you can feel the deep levels of frustration in their words.

Here’s one reader’s response to the study: “I taught for almost ten years but left the classroom for the very reason stated above - parents. I loved the students I taught, I loved my subject I taught, but I hated the constant questions from parents about why a child got a B or C, how can they fail even though they never did any work, and why didn’t the test come home the next day. I loved the parents who were reasonable, who looked at the assignments and made their children do them. I never minded answering how I arrived at a grade, but those parents who believed Cs were failing and As were the only acceptable grade drove me from a career I loved.”

I am not a teacher, but I am a youth and high school sports coach. So I can identify with this perspective, because sports brings out the best and the worst in parents, and not much in between. I’ve seen it up close and personal. Education is similar because parents see their children’s success or failure as a reflection of themselves. And that’s when emotions can spill over into anger and frustration and lead to “helicopter parenting.”

But how bad are most parents? And what should schools do to ensure good teachers are not leaving the profession because of overly demanding parents? What has been your experience?

A version of this news article first appeared in the Motivation Matters blog.