Education is a life long process that begins at birth and continues throughout an individual’s life. Each day presents new learning experiences for the individual that makes him well adjusted and fitted to his environment. The success of an individual in the formal type of education that is mainly focused on by the society is determined by a host of factors. The achievement in education can be judged from different perspectives especially when we consider individual cases.
The only way we get the kind of information that would help us to understand the role of different factors in educational achievement is to conduct an interview. This paper is written from the analysis of information gained from interviewing a middle aged male doctor who had just began practicing as a medic. The main reason for choosing this man was because he was considered to be among the people who had achieved academically in his society. Considering his background and the kind of experiences he went through while growing up in an inner city setting, he really had much information to share concerning what contributed to his success up to the level he was currently. He worked against all odds as he grew up in slums getting the determination to succeed and with support from the family got to the medical school. He is now married and a father of two children.
The venue for the interview that lasted for one hour was in his office on invitation in the hospital that he works in.
Much of the information obtained from the interviewee went a long way in supporting the family as the humble beginning of the education process for an individual. This is because it is from the family that each of us is socialized into the ways of the society and in preparation to fit into other systems in the world. Again the people we live with in the family contribute greatly in the formation of character, which is the most enduring endowment of an individual in life.
The interviewee reported having lived in a well set nuclear family with two other siblings. Life was so good and since he was the younger of the others, there were greater tendencies that he received more attention from everyone. In spite of the family living in the inner city setting, most of the basic necessities were affordable. Therefore the family was able to provide for the requirements that would make informal life comfortable. This was the beginning of his informal learning. The kind of interactions he had with the other siblings in the family as well as with the parents was all supportive, informative and based on informal learning. All advices were given by the parents and the elder siblings on some issues. This to me was a very social environment that would foster curiosity, independence and hard work since limitations were minimal.
Research findings have indicated that the family plays a very important role in the education process in the early years of an individual’s life. The social environment if positive for the young children has been shown to have substantial impact on the subsequent educational achievement for the child on entering school and into the formalized systems of education. Therefore what the interviewee reported as his early experiences in the family could have acted as a pointer and contributed to his present achievements.
These family experiences are also determined by other factors like the family size and the socio-economic status. These are some of the factors that determine what the family will provide to its members in all aspects of life ranging from food to learning experiences to play for the children. The socio-economic status is judged by the parents’ level of education and the type of occupation they are engaged in. This determines the income and other family assets which could enhance the learning experiences for its children. The interviewee reported that both parents were college educated but in technical fields. As such they could secure employment even if at times it would be casual. This meant that the children would get enough resources as regarded education since the parents had value for education.
Upon starting formal schooling, the interviewee reported that things changed drastically in their family and took a different direction altogether. This worst happened when he was in the fifth grade. His mother lost employment and the family had to depend on the father’s income alone. This meant that support and provision of most other things in the family was limited. This affected the whole family and their relationships. After the end of one year, the parents divorced. This was the worst part of the interviewee’s story in life and one of the most memorable. Such a change the interviewee reports had psychological effects on everybody in the family. It affected him so much that even he dropped in his academic performance in school. He reported having been in the last position in class. This was as a result of the family disturbances and the changes that came with the divorce. The teachers were amazed and took an action to help the interviewee through counseling services available at school which would have helped the boy to overcome the situation. He says that the teachers and the counselor instilled in him the desire to work hard and be successful in life. At the same time he reported that his mother did not stop to watch the failing marriage ruin all the family members.
It was then that she explained everything to the children, since she was left to take care of the children alone after the divorce. The parenting style she used was one in which she valued the children’s contribution towards reconstructing their family at the new level they found themselves in. She took every opportunity to instill in the children the sense of hard work, autonomy and responsibility at the same time. Since she understood the value of education she encouraged her children to seek the best in everything they did. This presented the role of the mother in encouraging her children and supporting them to overcome the unbearable conditions. She was also very determined to ensure that the children did not lack anything in life. As such, the interviewee reports that she worked extra hard. In order to meet the family expenses she could work even overtime in the casual jobs that she secured. This meant that the children had to participate and assist in the family chores and duties after school. The interviewee reports that such an experience helped them to become responsible since they knew that they had to do some duties after school day was over.
In order to help keep the children on track in education, the interviewee reported that his mother reasoned with them and required them to use the community library to borrow reading books. They were supposed to read and summarize one book per week and give it to their mother to see at the end of the week. Such a move ensured that they did extra work that eventually made them to succeed in education. In my view, this portrays the role of the family in fostering parent child relationships through discussions. Such discussions help each person to follow the resolutions made with a purpose in mind that one wants to achieve. This helps a great deal in the realization of success in children academically. It is also good for families to supplement the children’s education by using some of the resources available in the community like the libraries. Such resources when properly used and the children’s focus and reason for their use well explained, then that will go along way in ensuring the success of children in education.
It is also important for parents and adults living with the children to show high expectations and aspirations for their children’s achievement. This when coupled with parental warmth and a good social climate at home is a predictor that children will receive the best experiences at home. As the interviewee reported, it was the constant encouragement from the mother that he would make encouragement from the mother that he would make better grades that he would make it in life that worked out well for him. Even when situations proved hard the mother was always looking at them positively and encouraging them to seek the best. “such a situation in which the parent holds high expectations of academic achievement for his/her children and letting them to know acts like a motivation to boost the children’s academic performance.” Said the medic. To this point I concurred with him and since he reported that was what happened in his life, it was a clear example. It is part of the supportive role played by the parent in their children’s education and it is very important since it is emotional.
Although children cannot control the situations of their families during their early years, they have a role as individuals as they advance in age to shape their destiny. This depends to a large extent on the formative years, if they were good, then the learners can set their goals and vision in life. As they interact with other influential people at school, they should always seek to model the hardworking teachers. The interviewee reported that his goal of becoming a doctor in life was inspired by one of the teachers in high school who praised his exemplary performance in the science subjects. He called him for an interview and after discussing with him for a short time he got the encouragement to pursue his dream in the medical profession. It was then that he realized the influence of the teachers in supporting educational achievement.
It is however important to note that the development of a realistic view on the part of the learner starts in the family set up and is fostered by other influential persons at school like the teachers and counselors. Therefore the family is a very important determinant of future success of the children. The members should help the children in knowing what it takes to achieve by instilling values for hard work in the children. When the character is formed it will ensure that children succeed in school.
The medic who said that he wanted to further his studies and get a master degree in the same field had a lot of advice to parents. As he concluded the interview he said that with a proper environment at home and the learner’s determination to succeed then success was sure to be achieved. Although all was not smooth in his family he called on the students to develop some intrinsic form of motivation to achieve and to succeed no matter what come on their way. He said that they should enhance their performance by engaging in educational activities outside school and spend more time in their academic work. He gave his example on how the involvement in reading library books, an extra activity outside school helped him to achieve much in academics.
In as much as the family is the main contributor towards academic achievement in students, it should not be considered in isolation since other factors contribute to the children’s success in academic work. Therefore all the other interactive factors should be focused on so that a clear picture of success in education can be realized.
From the interview I learnt that the family set up influences the educational achievement of children so much. The style of parenting used in raising up children and the quality of parent-child interactions are very important in fostering educational achievement. This is because they affect the children’s emotional and cognitive development two very important factors in academic performance. I have also learnt that the family should offer education activities that are supportive to the children like using the community libraries as this enhances future success for the children. Finally parental warmth in an environment that assures children that great expectations and aspirations about their success are held acts as a great boost to their success.