Finding the right channel

A finger operating a remote

If we were to ask parents “What channel is Mnet Movies?”, most would probably be able to tell us the answer.

Similarly, if we were to ask parents what channel we could find the soccer or rugby matches, it is pretty clear we would receive the right answer, especially from the fathers.

Would we get the right answer for wildlife or cooking programmes?

Where are the news channels? Few people will switch on the television and simply watch whatever channel is on – we move around the different channels to find the one that will help and interest us.

The fact is, we will not find the sports results on the Disney channel. If we want to find out more about something or follow up on certain details, we simply turn without any fuss or bother to the right channel.

We will not send a message to everyone’s mailbox to let the world know what we want to watch or that our television is not picking up the programme we want.

We simply find the right channel and we will not be disappointed.

It should not surprise us, therefore, to realise that the same is true of our schools.

We need to find and follow the right channel for whatever it is we wish to find out more about.

We need to follow the prescribed channels of communication that each school will have. As with television where there are certain channels geared for sport, news, finance or whatever, so with schools there are the correct channels to follow if we wish to know more or express our thoughts on sport, homework, fees or whatever.

We simply choose the right channel.

It is extraordinary that, when there are open channels of communication, parents choose to send in anonymous letters to a school.

It defies logic as they will not be able to receive a reply which begs the question why they raise the point if they do not want an answer – the reason may simply be that they do not want an answer, just their own way.

It is the same with anonymous posts on social media outlets which again seems to have little logic as such posts can only damage further the very school that their child is attending and which they argue they are upholding.

Taking concerns or complaints to a public forum is not helping to resolve the situation.

Equally taking concerns to much higher authorities is again not the right approach – it would be called ‘bullying’ in school terms.

They have more far important issues to deal with, all the more so when there are already appropriate channels in existence to navigate; indeed, their response should be to ask if the parent has followed the correct channels and save themselves unnecessary work.

Where there is a genuine complaint (and not simply a personal selfish gripe), parents are encouraged to follow the correct channels.  

If no answer is received, or if the answer is insufficient, then it can be taken to the next channel.

Each line is accountable to another. Choose the correct channel.

We may remember the Prayer of St Francis, adapted to music in more recent times and often sung in our schools, entitled “Make me a channel of your peace”.

In many ways it is an ideal reminder for parents in schools as it speaks of “where there is hatred, … injury, … doubt, …despair, … darkness, … sadness”, all of which are sentiments that parents often feel, not least as there is no perfect school.

The poem shows that there are right channels to deal with these experiences – where there is injury, pardon; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light.

Understanding is imperative.

We are all to be channels of peace in our schools and to do that we must follow the right channels.

The problem is, in schools as in the poem, that we approach it all with the wrong mindset – when we

raise issues we are probably wanting more to be consoled (we want other parents to support us), to be understood (we want other parents to agree with us), to be loved (we want other parents to praise us).

However, if we follow the right channels, we will find that we are better equipped to support the school, understand the reasons why certain actions are taken and love what is being done.

May we all as parents be a channel of peace in our school; may we all follow the channels that will resolve the issues we confront.

  • Tim Middleton is the executive director of the Association of Trust Schools [ATS]. The views expressed in this article, however, are solely those of the author in his private capacity and do not necessarily represent the views of the ATS. 
  • email: [email protected]
  • website: www.atschisz

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