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After giving up the chicken baby, they began to roll up the family committee

After giving up the chicken baby, they began to roll up the family committee

After giving up the chicken baby, they began to roll up the family committee

Author | Zheng Yini

Edit | Zhan Tengyu

Title Picture | "Happy Parents Group"

Xiao Tian is a parenting blogger with a master's degree in biology, and is what many parents call "someone else's mother". At one point, she noticed that her children's photos were not always on the list of school activities, even though she and her children took every activity seriously and prepared with great care.

Xueba's self-consciousness made her want to know what was going on. After a period of observation, she was surprised to find that almost all the parents of the children with the highest appearance rate were members of the parent committee.

This result made Xiao Tian have mixed feelings. She admits that these subtle facts make it hard not to be concerned: "It clearly reminds me that I still have to have a good relationship with the teacher." ”

After giving up the chicken baby, they began to roll up the family committee

On September 1, 2022, in Hefei, at Lu'an Road Primary School, students passed through the "Volunteer Guardian Post" and entered the campus. Volunteer nurses are usually made up of parents of students. (Photo/Visual China)

There are not a few parents who have similar confusion to Xiao Tian. In recent years, there has been a steady stream of news about the Parent Association on the Internet, in which the Parent Association has become a center of power and information. For example, the parent committee of a certain elementary school in Dalian City "forced" parents to agree to let teachers leave homework and exams for their first-grade children; the parents of a certain parent committee in Nanjing, Jiangsu Province, collected 1,000 yuan from each parent in the parent group; the head of a group in Guangzhou claimed to have given advice to the parent committee, but was kicked out of the class group; and the middle school committee in Changsha asked parents to "crowdfund" to install air conditioning in their classrooms; and so on. The many chaos caused by the Parent Association have hidden various problems in contemporary education, which have aroused widespread public concern and discussion.

It's the Parent Association,

Or is it a "brush committee"?

The full name of the Parent Association is the "Parent Committee". According to the Guiding Opinions of the Ministry of Education on the Establishment of Parent Committees in Primary and Secondary Schools and Kindergartens (hereinafter referred to as the "Guiding Opinions") issued by the Ministry of Education, the basic responsibilities of the parent committees include participating in school management, participating in educational work, and communicating between schools and families. The original intention of the establishment of the PTA is to strengthen the communication and connection between the family and the school, promote home-school co-education, and promote the all-round development of students.

However, in reality, there is a risk that the responsibilities of the PTA may be misinterpreted or overextended.

The TV series "Little Farewell" also describes such a scene: parents participate in various school activities at all costs, hoping to become members of the parent committee, get close to teachers and even school management, and strive for better extracurricular activities for their children, more learning resources, and even some convenience in the issue of further education.

After giving up the chicken baby, they began to roll up the family committee

In Shanghai, members of the Parent Committee are meeting to discuss. (Photo/Visual China)

Xu Qinke's child is in the first year of junior high school this year, and her school announced the election of a new parent committee, and she decided to participate in the election, with a pure intention - hoping to better understand the school's education policy and contribute to the children's learning by participating in the parent committee. However, as she became more involved in the activities of the Parent Association, she gradually realized that things were not as simple as she thought.

Xu Qinke noticed that some members of the parent committee seem to be more concerned about how to use the platform and identity to gain an advantage for their children, deliberately arranging more opportunities for their own children's performance in activities, openly canvassing for their children in the selection, or trying their best to make their presence more visible in front of the teacher, trying to make the teacher leave a better impression on the child.

Xu Qinke, who did not admit defeat, realized that if he did not take some action, his children might be at a disadvantage in the invisible competition. She also began to "roll up", actively participated in the discussion of the parent committee, put forward her own suggestions, and also had to face the dissatisfaction and complaints of some parents.

After giving up the chicken baby, they began to roll up the family committee

(Photo/"Happy Parents Group")

At the same time, she also reflected: Is it wrong for parents to fight for their children's rights and interests? If she hadn't joined the Parent Committee in the first place, wouldn't she even have such an opportunity?

According to a survey conducted by the Social Survey Center of China Youth Daily, 70.3% of the parents surveyed said that the parent association had caused them some trouble. Among them, 52.5% of the parents surveyed were worried that opportunities such as awards were more likely to favor the children of the parent association, and the parents regarded the parent association as the best way to brush up their presence in front of the teacher, hoping that through their own "dedication", they could exchange their children for priority treatment at school; 48.4% of the interviewed parents pointed out that parents compare with each other, and the parent association has become "vanity fair"; 26.4% of the parents believe that the parent association has become a volunteer in the class, handling all kinds of trivial affairs.

Some parents often "exert too much force" to see entering the parent committee as some kind of educational resource to compete for. When this concern goes beyond what is reasonable, contradictions arise. As more and more problems are exposed by the parent committee, the call for "canceling" or "reshaping" the parent committee is getting louder and louder.

"Zihan" parents,

"Karen in China"

The problem eventually coalesced into an online meme.

Almost every class has a "Zihan parent". The meme of "My Family Zihan" originated from a teacher's chat log posted on social media, where parents questioned the teacher why their family Zihan was bitten by mosquitoes in kindergarten, but other children did not.

This seemingly trivial matter actually reflects the questioning of a large part of parents' behavior, which has evolved into discussions and Internet memes about family education, and "Zihan" parents are also used to ridicule parents who pay too much attention to their children and want to control everything. Some parents may have high expectations of the PTA, hoping that they will be able to speak out on behalf of the interests of all parents and reconcile any conflicts.

After giving up the chicken baby, they began to roll up the family committee

On December 7, 2021, the 5th grade students of Jiangdu District Experimental Primary School in Yangzhou City, Jiangsu Province, under the organization of the school and the parent committee, came to Phoenix Island Wetland Park for a visit and study. (Photo/Visual China)

Everyone hopes that "My Family Zihan" can be paid attention to at all times, but the collective environment of the school and the limited attention of teachers make this appeal unrealistic after all. When parents fail to meet these expectations, "Zihan parents" may have conflicts, disappointments, and even misunderstandings. This contradiction and conflict reveals deeper social problems, and parents' anxiety about their children's education eventually translates into unrealistic expectations and excessive competition.

Zhu Dan, who has worked in the parent committee, has the biggest feeling: "When I meet 'Zihan' parents, that is the 'Chinese version of Karen', which makes you tired and your heart even more tired." ”

Zhu Dan is a warm-hearted member of the parent committee. Whenever there is a large-scale event at school, she is always the first to arrive and the last to leave, busy preparing materials and setting up the venue. At the most recent sports meeting, in order to let the children have an unforgettable experience, Zhu Dan paid for renting a truck and transporting the dancing props to the school. She paid dozens of yuan for the freight herself, and she was embarrassed to reimburse the school because the amount was not high. Occasionally, stationery and teaching aids need to be purchased for class activities, but as long as the amount is not much, Zhu Dan buys them himself and moves them to the classroom, never making a noise.

In Zhu Dan's opinion, these are trivial things that are not worth mentioning, as natural as taking care of his family. But her dedication was not recognized by all parents. Some parents believe that the members of the PTA will always get some unknown benefits from it, and even privately complain that Zhu Dan favors their children in activities. Once, a parent publicly accused Zhu Dan of not taking pictures of his children at an event, and Zhu Dan clearly remembered that there were.

After giving up the chicken baby, they began to roll up the family committee

On March 24, 2023, in Qiandongnan, Guizhou, at the home-school co-education activity of the Central Primary School of Gangbian Zhuang Township, Congjiang County, the teacher introduced the school's work to parents. (Photo/Visual China)

Zhu Dan said: "As a member of the parent committee, I often have to go to voluntary labor, and I am told by my parents not to take pictures of my children; I am disgusted when we engage in parent-child activities, and I am disgusted that the things we prepare are not delicious; I often contribute my own money and efforts, and I am embarrassed to repay the small money." However, there are always parents who think that the parents of the PTA have gained a lot of benefits. ”

Many teachers also expressed their grievances, and many times they involuntarily waded into the troubled waters of the parent committee. Cheng Wenjie, the head teacher of a provincial primary school, said that as a teacher, what he wants to do most is to concentrate on teaching: "Most teachers will not give a child special treatment because of the parent in the parent committee. What teachers are most afraid of are those 'Zihan' parents who always feel that their children are at a loss, are keen to give opinions, and go to the Education Bureau to complain at every turn. ”

Cheng Wenjie is very afraid of this kind of thing, and parents who make good use of the "rules": "A parent came to me to discuss that the school's extracurricular interest class arrangement conflicted with her child's schedule, and hoped that the school would adjust the time of the extracurricular interest class. I told her that this was a unified arrangement of the school and could not be adjusted, and that if there was a time conflict, she could not report the interest class of the day. She disagreed, and at the end of the communication, she had to organize a vote on the parent committee. ”

Silent battlefields

According to the criteria set out in the Guiding Opinions, the members of the Parent Committee are "parents of students who represent the wishes of all parents". This definition is a little sloppy, and it also causes parents with different mentalities and purposes to get lost in the whirlpool of the name of "parent association".

Some schools will make decisions based on parents' educational backgrounds, occupations and other factors when selecting PTA members, which seems to have become an unwritten rule. The list of the first parent committee of a primary school in Zhenjiang, Jiangsu Province, exposed in 2020, shows that the parents who were selected for the parent committee are either working in government departments or corporate executives. The principal of the school responded to this: "The members of the parent committee have a social reputation, and it will be easier to do things. ”

Zhu Dan, who has been a member of the parent committee for three years, has become familiar with teachers in various subjects. The head teacher did provide her with more resources and convenience. For example, she will help inquire about her children's grades in other subjects as soon as possible, will take the initiative to provide suggestions for children's education planning, and will show Zhu Dan surveillance video in private when her children have disputes with classmates......

After giving up the chicken baby, they began to roll up the family committee

On May 14, 2021, in Jinan, Shandong, the high school held a lecture on family quality improvement education. The picture shows each class teacher holding a class parent-teacher meeting. Parent committees are also usually elected at parent-teacher conferences. (Photo/Visual China)

Zhu Dan said frankly: "The parent committee can always know the school's activities at the first time, and other parents have relatively fewer opportunities. ”

After experiencing the "tempering" of the parent committee, Xu Qinke was very emotional. She feels that this class of parents is too difficult, not only to help their children with homework, care about home-school co-education, but also to know a little public relations, and use a reasonable, reasonable and legal way to have a good relationship with teachers, and strive for more resources for children: "Parents with low emotional intelligence should not enter the parent committee, you are likely to not understand the subtext of the principal and teachers." Parents who don't have much time should not join the PTA, you don't have the energy to complete the tasks assigned by the teacher. Parents with a bad mentality should not participate in the PTA, you will face a lot of negative emotions. Not only do you have to speak for the teacher, but also have to solve a lot of parent problems, in the parent committee, you are not only sandwich biscuits, but also have to know and thin mud. ”

After giving up the chicken baby, they began to roll up the family committee

(Photo/"Little Shede")

In this regard, Li Zewu, principal of Chengdu Waldorf School, said: "Nowadays, people are generally more self-interested and utilitarian, and it is actually a natural phenomenon for some parents to think about 'circles' and the like when they are together. But some things can be broken, just like Wang Xifeng and Grandma Liu in "Dream of Red Mansions", this metaphor is not necessarily appropriate, but it is certain that in order to avoid the alienation of the parent committee into educational rent-seeking, the important thing is the concept, that is, whether parents can stand in the position of their children and start from the needs of each child to find a solution. ”

Parents are "rolling" themselves

For reference, the U.S. Parent Committee has another "roll" method.

Jasica is a mother of three and a typical "Chinese tiger mother" in the Bay Area. Jasica took on the position of vice president of the PTA at her youngest daughter's school. According to Jasica, the Parent Council (PTA) in the United States is school-wide, and there is no PTA in the classroom. The responsibilities of the American Parent Association include helping the school organize activities, volunteering for the school, raising funds, etc., without directly dealing with the teaching teacher.

After giving up the chicken baby, they began to roll up the family committee

American National Council, abbreviated as PTA. Many of the school's activities are organized and coordinated by the PTA every year. The PTA will also organize parents with professional expertise to come to the school to teach their children, that is, use parents' resources to improve and enrich the school's teaching. (Photo/pixabay)

"Domestic students are basically academically focused and rarely have much to do outside of studying, but the American Parent Association has a lot more to do than the National Parent Association," Jasica said. Every year, Thanksgiving, Halloween, school celebrations, graduation ceremonies and other large-scale events, the Parent Association is highly involved. In addition, there are various themed activities, and the format is required not to be repeated. The event is funded by donations from the Parent Association. On the day of the event, several parents are also required to help the teacher in the classroom, such as setting up the classroom, distributing food, and assisting students with games. ”

In Jasica's view, American schools do not engage in grade rankings, there are no class cadres in the class, there are no evaluation of the three good students, there is no "resource" that teachers can use, parents do not have to go out of their way to please teachers, teachers and parents are relatively estranged, and teachers only send emails to notify parents when something happens.

According to Jasica, members of the American Parent Committee are often involved with a service mentality: "Even parents with high social status do not show their resumes and academic qualifications in a high-profile manner. I am the vice president of the Parent Association, but I am actually a volunteer housekeeper, responsible for connecting with various fun projects to enrich the school time of more than 500 primary school students. One of the most time-consuming tasks this year was participating in the National PTA to apply for the 'School of Excellence' designation for the school. ”

After giving up the chicken baby, they began to roll up the family committee

In the U.S., both public and private schools require parental donations. Donations are generally organized by the parent committee, and the amount of donations each year will also directly affect whether many of the school's teaching projects have enough funds to complete. (Photo/pixabay)

At home, Jasica couldn't stop all year long: in January, she did a morning reading project, in February she invited a chemistry experiment to the Science Museum, in March she held an international food festival, in April she held a teacher appreciation week, and in May she prepared for a school-wide outdoor day and graduation ceremony. With a school-wide run fundraiser in October, a fall auction in November and a Christmas shop in December, "Organizing events, fundraising, and other tasks can take a lot of time and effort, and even the most competent parents can feel stressful. Now parents are emphasizing that 'chicken babies are not as good as chickens themselves'. Whether in China or the United States, joining the parent committee is one of the ways for parents to 'chicken' themselves. If you want your child to be extraordinary, you must first be extraordinary. In order to keep my children happy at school, I will also try to get myself on the list of the school parent committee."

This may be another possibility, or essential meaning, of the Parent Association: to build a good collective living and learning experience for children, so that they can not only see the beauty of the collective, but also find the meaning of the individual, have a stable environment, and understand that neither parents nor the school can replace everything.

Proofreading: Zou Weiyun

Operations: Ono

Typesetting: Duan Meiyu

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