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  • Anna Brix Thomsen

Who is Responsible for My Child’s Education? DAY 59

Who has the responsibility for our children’s failures and successes when it comes to education? Is it the school-system? The government? The scientists? The teachers who see our children every day? Or is it us as parents? 

Read the previous blog-posts for further context on this topic: 

When I searched for articles on this subject literally typing in the phrase: “Who is Responsible for our Children’s Education?” almost all the articles and blogs I found were from or about home-schooling parents. It is interesting because perhaps home-schooling parents are exactly mostly asking this question whereas the rest of us tend to take for granted either that we are responsible as parents or that it is the school that is responsible.

In Scandinavia and in particular in Sweden where I work as a teacher, there is a distinct perception, amongst parents especially, that education is something that the school system is responsible for taking care of. This has been a hot topic of discussion in the media, where parents and teachers respectively criticize one another for not taking responsibility. An example of this is how preschool teachers have complained that children come to preschool without knowing how to use a fork and a knife and how this therefore has to be a primary focus when they are at school. A point to mention here as well is that home schooling is illegal and parents thus have a legal responsibility to enroll their children in either a private or a public school following a national curriculum.

So there is in Sweden a definitive political and educational direction where a great responsibility is placed on schools to be the ones to facilitate the best education for our children.

But as OECD’s (Organization for economic co-operation and development) recent annual PISA (Program for international student assessment) report revealed, Sweden is at the very bottom when it comes to reading ability amongst its students. This has sent shockwaves through the country, because in the year 2000 for example, Sweden was amongst the top performing countries with regards to reading ability.

In many ways it is astounding that Sweden does not perform well when it comes to students reading abilities, because it is a country with very high living standards and economic equality and according to OECD 87 % achieve education at the level of high school in Sweden. (Source:

The Swedish government has now placed a goal of becoming amongst the top 5 best countries in the Pisa report and the government has earmarked 300 million Swedish kroner (approximately 46.0000 US dollars or 33.0000 Euros) 

So who is responsible for the downfall of the Swedish students and more importantly; who is responsible for remediating the problem?

As has been mentioned in previous blog-post, a significant problem with today’s school system, and a possible part of the explanation for the decline of Swedish students ability to read, is that there are too many students per class. Simultaneously teachers have gotten increased administrative responsibilities, less time to prepare as well as the national curricular changing to incorporate national tests such as the ones done by PISA. (Source:

As I have mentioned in previous blog-posts, even with a small group with three children I as a teacher was not able to effectively accommodate the individual needs of each child in terms of assisting them in learning how to read and write, so you can imagine how ineffective a teachers must be in a class of thirty or more students, even if that teacher is in fact a great teacher.

One-on-one lessons is a concrete solution to the problem we are facing when it comes to the reading ability of our children, but such a model is in no way feasible in the current world-system. It is therefore it is so important that we as parents get involved in our children’s education. Because we clearly cannot simply continue trusting that the school system will take responsibility for teaching our children the basic skills of writing and reading, even with committed teachers who are passionate about education. The results from the recent PISA report are a clear indicator of this.

What we can do is to get involved and get educated about the options available for us to take active part in our children’s education. For many parents this might seem like a daunting task, none the least because we have not been trained to train children in the basic skills of reading and writing. However when looking at the results from the PISA report, it is clear that our governments, scientists and educators – the so-called authorities in our children’s education – in spite of years of schooling and research have not developed sufficient tools in assisting children to learn how to read and write – and therefore, by not doing anything, we are doing our children a disservice. Through placing trust in an ineffective education system where our children fail at the most basic skills of reading and writing, it is actually us that are failing them – because we haven’t done everything in our power to make sure that they have the necessary foundation to walk into adulthood and make an effective life for themselves.

We can therefore conclude that as parents bringing children into this world, we have the primary responsibility for their education, obviously together with society as a whole. But because the school system is created and is functioning based on the principles agreed upon by society and because this school system is currently based on competition in a global economy, we can see this is producing children who aren’t as effective at reading or writing that they could be. And it is therefore up to us as parents to stand as examples that understands the importance of education, not merely on a global level of economic completion, but also on an individual level where each person’s life is determined to a great deal by the education they receive as children. 

I recommend reading the following blogs:

Natural Learning Abilities blog series – a MUST READ! 

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