The Question

Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? Parents are the best teachers. Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.

(the question used here came from the Official Guide to the TOEFL)

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The Sample Essay

               These days, homeschooling is becoming a more and more popular alternative to traditional learning methods and many parents believe that they can do a better job than professional educators.  Personally, though, I do not feel that parents are the best teachers.  I feel this way for two reasons, which I will explore in the following essay.

               First of all, parents are biased when it comes to their own children.  To be specific, most parents think that their children are the smartest kids in the world.  As a result, they often teach them at an inappropriately quick pace, and mistakenly assume that they will be able to keep up.  Over the course of an entire school year this can have serious consequences.  An old friend of mine is a compelling example of this.  Rather than attending his local public school, my friend was taught at home by his mother.  His mother had good intentions, but she failed completely at teaching him math.  She made the assumption that her son was able to grasp basic concepts right away and moved on immediately to advanced lessons that were above what he would have been learning at the public school.  When it came time for my friend to take the annual state-mandated competency tests, he was wholly unprepared and he shocked his mom by earning a failing grade.  This example demonstrates that parents are not always the best teachers.

               Secondly, parents are not aware of modern teaching methods, and therefore use antiquated and ineffective methods to educate their children.  Parents have children at increasingly advanced ages nowadays and when it comes time to teach them, they have been out of school for ten or twenty years.  Professional teachers, in contrast, have time for professional development every year of their careers, and work in a collaborative environment where older teachers are kept up to date by their younger colleagues.  This means that trained teachers excel at teaching youngsters of all backgrounds, while parents struggle to educate even their own children.  While my friend’s mother eventually overcame her difficulty teaching math to her son, the next year she had a lot of trouble motivating him to keep up with his language lessons.  She was proactive, though, and sought help from her local school board.  The officials at the board put her in touch with a young teacher from a nearby elementary school.  He showed her how to use the Internet to help her son find foreign-language resources more suited to his specific interests.  Until she got help from that young teacher, she had no idea that the Internet included a wealth of videos, music and games that she could utilize with her son.

              In conclusion, I strongly disagree with the idea that parents are the best teachers.  This is because parents are biased when it comes to their kids, and because professional teachers benefit from modern techniques and training.



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