Toronto Star’s Rick Salutin doesn’t believe parents teach

School busesI know I was supposed to get an early start on the Labour Day weekend but after I read Rick Salutin’s column in the Toronto Star entitled “Parents are not their kids primary educators,” I just had to write something.

Wow! Truly, in the 40+ years I have been involved in both public education and teacher education, I have never read anything so subjective and simplistic, particularly from someone who is as esteemed and well-educated as Salutin.

And, I don’t believe it is just a difference of opinion. It is as though Salutin completely overlooks developmental and learning theory. Here, for example, are three quotes from his column:

(1) “You don’t ‘teach’ your kids what to do or how to be, but you play back to them the best in their own impulses and responses to the world and you do it appreciatively and enthusiastically.”

(2) “Yet being directive can work too, in fact almost anything can, depending on the parent. In that way it’s exactly like teaching. In either case there’s no one right way, since both are about relationships, which depend on the unique individuals involved.”

(3) “Let parents parent and teachers teach.”

I mean, Salutin says:”playing back to them” is something parents do. Well, that is what teachers do too. They call it brainstorming and decision-making. They also call it the”ah ha” moment — when a child or youth suddenly understands something.

Yes, I agree when Salutin says no one teaching approach is best. In fact, there is a lot of research on the role of teacher beliefs and attitudes about teaching, often referred to as “curriculum orientations,” in addition to the theories about development and learning I mentioned earlier.

However, Salutin seems to have forgotten that, under the Ontario Education Act, teachers are acting in loco parentis — in place of parents. Not the other way around.

Anyway, in my opinion, the crux of the matter is that it makes no sense at all to say that parents are not their child’s primary educator. Yes, children and youth spend many hours a day at school with their teachers but they spend much longer over their pre-adulthood with their parents and it is the latter, for good or bad, that influence them the most. To me, why anyone would think the opposite is certainly a puzzle.

3 thoughts on “Toronto Star’s Rick Salutin doesn’t believe parents teach

  1. Exactly my initial reaction Liz. Unbelievable that anyone could make such a claim — unless of course, a parent is a hands-off or distant parent. For example, a lot of rich kids are brought up by nannies. but even in a case like that, it’s the nanny that is doing the teaching — also in loco parentis.


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