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I just finished my third year of teaching and have seen a lot of trends in students, both academically and behaviorally. One of the biggest trends I've seen is how fathers affect a child's ability to succeed. In public schools, there are often several students with pretty outrageous behavior problems, ultimately adversely affecting their academic success. The one thing most of the students with severe behavior problems have in common is that they have an absent father or a poor role model for a father.
There are definitely exceptions to this rule, but generally speaking, no father = poor behavior and decreased academic success. For example, one of my students last year, who we'll call Delia, was an A/B student in eighth grade. She received an A in an advanced algebra class at her previous school. She was placed in geometry as a freshman, but asked if she could be switched back to algebra so she could have an easier class. The counselors and/or administration allowed this switch. She ended up in my class. Delia and I butted heads all year long. I have high standards for my students and do not tolerate inappropriate behavior. She wanted attention from everyone and would do anything to get it. She was consistently sent out of class, and I had several parent-teacher-student conferences and meetings with the administration. I learned that her parents were recently divorced, and her father moved to another state. She had little to no contact with her father, and she went from being an A/B student to a straight-F student. She received an F in my algebra class, despite receiving an A the year before.
I have had several students in this position, most of which have had absent fathers their entire lives. Whether their fathers are in a different household, in jail or deceased, this can affect children in a negative way. I definitely don't want to discount the hard work of the mothers in the world, but there is definitely something to be said for having a strong male role model in children's lives that gives them that much more of a chance to succeed.
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