All parents want the best for their children, and many hope that they will do well in school; that they will enjoy learning, and grow up feeling knowledgeable, confident and self-assured. However, many children go through schooling not performing as well as what they are capable of, and in many case become disaffected. Signs of this include persistent truancy, disruptive behaviour, withdrawal, and alienation. It has been shown that this has a strong correlation with underachievement, pupils who consistently produce work perceived to be below their ability, one of the problems that pupils experience in school.
Children who underachieve generally show feelings of a ‘sense of inadequacy and limited ambition; a dislike of school work and book learning; poor work habits; unsatisfactory relationships with peers; a high incidence of emotional difficulties; and behavioural problems in school.’ (Montgomery, 2001 p.2-3) There are various factors behind why children underachieve, the most notable influences being parents, teachers and the school. During their childhood, children go through stages of rapid change in the period that they are developing. Other factors that cause children to underachieve in school and become disaffected can be related to fear; boredom; mental, physical or social hindrances i.e. learning disabilities, special needs, physical disabilities etc; abuse; or confusion. In many cases where disaffection is related to underachievement, the situation becomes worse over the years as ‘school become more goal-orientated and less flexible and, as part and parcel of those changes, increasingly unwilling to accommodate diversity of behaviour, cultural expression and ways of learning’ (Klein, 2000, p. xii)
How parents are responsible for their children underachieving.
‘Children learn best in environments that are comfortable, reassuring, efficient, appropriate, whether at home or at school,’ (Goldstein and Mather, 1998 p.108) To a certain extent, parents are held responsible for hindering their child’s learning. When they are developing, children require nurturing and caring, and to be sufficiently valued. Parent roles are significant in ensuring their children grow up in a positive and encouraging environment; negative reactions and relationships in the family can cause a considerable impact on their child’s behaviour and performance in school, ‘parents who are, say, overly critical or hostile or are inconsistent in their behaviour, veering between the punitive and lenient, or who are physically abusive are likely to have children who behave badly both at school and at home’ (Klein, 2000 p.124). It can also be perceived that children who are repeatedly told they are ‘dumb’, or ‘stupid’ can be left with the belief that what they have been called by others, especially by their family, is true. This can lead to children experiencing a decline in their self-worth, regarding themselves to be less able than they are.
It can be argued...