Scranton: Examining the evolution of ‘jackhammer parents’ |

Scranton: Examining the evolution of ‘jackhammer parents’

Lance Scranton

I like to keep up with trends in our culture that affect public education, in general and with teaching specifically.

For years helicopter parents tried to hover over their children’s lives to the degree that micromanaging their every move and decision was common, but it’s not the best for teaching children independent thinking skills and learning how to function apart from Mom and Dad.

Lawnmower parents took it a step further, and instead of hovering, they actually cleared a nice comfortable path for their children with as few obstacles as possible to ensure their child’s success.

The path might be cleared of every obstacle or hindrance, but the learning part of this parenting style conflicted with how the child needed to understand the world. Sometimes obstacles help us to learn to overcome — and often a hindrance is a sign that another path might be in order or that working a little harder is warranted.

Jackhammer parenting is the latest style made necessary in part because of COVID-19. When parents began to take notice of their children’s actual education when they were quarantined at home for so long, “many-a-parents” eyes were opened.

A longstanding trust of the public institution designed to educate children was suddenly being questioned. Activated by what they were seeing on their children’s remote learning screens, parents began to forcefully speak up and demand the lessons and teaching methods that they were witnessing be explained by teachers and defended by school districts.

Some school districts and school boards decided their duty was to shut out parents from seeing the curriculum that children were being exposed to each and every day in classrooms. School board meetings got emotional, and some even violent, as parents determined that the school they supported financially through taxation had a clear responsibility to be transparent about what was being taught to their children.

The jackhammer parent decided that it wasn’t enough for teachers and administrators to explain away that their child was being educated about the importance of diversity, inclusiveness, equity and inclusion.

What did that mean? How did they teach it? What methods were they using? What about reading, writing, math, civics and science that parents thought was the main responsibility of the school system to teach young children? Who would answer these questions? Answers were demanded and expected or confrontations occurred.

So the jackhammer parent got a bad name and the federal government even got involved, explaining that parents who attended school board meetings and became aggressive might need to be watched for potentially violent actions. The effect was to increase the distrust rather than to engage parents in meaningful explanation of the school’s curriculum.

Many parents are left wondering what has happened to public schools. School boards are often on the defensive and school districts wonder why enrollment numbers are being affected. Teachers caught in the middle wonder how wanting to help educate children became such a political hot potato.

Schools supported by taxpayers should be transparent in all that they do regarding what children are learning. Government by the people, for the people includes elected representatives who are tasked to oversee what our children are exposed to and intercede when social activism trumps age-appropriate classroom learning experiences. Seems logical doesn’t it?

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