Intervening on children's behalf may do more harm

I agree with Madam Evelyn Chan Wai Yee that we should respect teachers, but with the caveat that teachers may not be the final authority in some areas ("Respect teachers - they shape our kids' future"; Oct 28).

As a former educator, I have come across many cases of parents trying to intervene on their children's behalf, especially regarding disciplinary matters. An example concerned a student whose mother, despite overwhelming evidence, refused to accept that he was involved in theft.

Such parents, who undermine the school's authority, may be doing great harm to their children. Emboldened by their parents' protection, these students may graduate to more serious misdemeanours and get into trouble with the law in future.

On the other hand, teachers should also respect students' decisions, when the occasion calls for it. For example, in one case, a newly appointed co-curricular activities teacher overrode the outgoing student leaders' decisions in the appointment of the incoming student leaders, even though they gave strong reasons for their choices.

As a result, the seniors boycotted an overseas trip to show their solidarity.

The teacher might have been incensed by the students' seeming insubordination, but she should also have reflected on the reasons for their frustration.

There were instances when I, as a parent, instinctively wanted to intervene on my daughter's behalf, but restrained myself upon further reflection. I know that I cannot help her forever, and that she should develop the fortitude to deal with any difficult situation and learn from it. I told my daughter that school is a microcosm of working life, and that she should not expect equitable treatment at all times.

My minimum requirement for my daughter in school was that she should give her teachers no reasons to warrant a call from them, which, I am proud to say, she has succeeded in complying with. I have also never judged any situation compelling enough to demand an audience with her teachers.

Parents who wish to better understand a school's culture and its general direction should join the parents support group, as I did.

I believe that my hands-off approach to my daughter's education - she is now an undergraduate - has helped to develop the resilience and independence that will stand her in good stead in years to come.

Maria Loh Mun Foong (Ms)