Hudnut, Huybrechts discuss role of parents

Comparing children to sheepdogs and parents to trainers, President Thomas C. Hudnut encouraged parents to nurture their children’s academic growth without becoming frustrated or overly controlling, at the Parents’ Association meeting Sept. 20. Head of School Dr. Jeanne Huybrechts read two essays she had also read at a recent meeting for teachers, both of which dealt with bridging the gap between teachers and parents.

The first one discussed the word passion, a word that Huybrechts felt is “over-used,” and therefore “cheapened.” She said even younger students claim to have passions that don’t withstand failure. A parent told Huybrechts that her “daughter’s passion used to be math, until that passion was destroyed by taking Algebra I.” Huybrechts warned parents against forcing a passion on their child. Huybrechts’ next essay dealt with the special knowledge parents have of their chilren.

Hudnut drew from four stories, giving examples of characteristics that he hopes parents will instill in their children.

The first story was about humility. A boy became arrogant after his father let him win at tennis, but while playing on a team realized he wasn’t as talented as his parents led him to believe.

Hudnut shared letters great Americans, including Abigail Adams, Thomas Jefferson, W.E.B. Dubois and John O’Hara. had written to their children.

“Whether as a parent or as a teacher it is up to us to light the way and provide for our children a guidepost,” Hudnut said, after reading the letters.

Hudnut described a visit her made this summer to a graveyard in Wyoming that contained the tombs of early pioneers.

Hudnut hoped that the students might have some of the same ideals as these people, and that the students will be “tough, strong, and sturdy,” the same way these people were who didn’t have opportunities.

Finally, Hudnut described his trip to a sheep herding competition. He used the dogs and trainers as metaphors for children and their teachers and parents. The dogs whose trainers yelled at them were often uncoordinated and unsusccessful.

“You must act with love toward your children, and you must believe in their ability to succeed,” Hudnut said.

The best trainers rewarded their dogs with simple praise: “That’ll do.”

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