Which frustrates people at school

School frustration of a mother"Our family peace was downright threatened for years"

Sandra Pfister: The book title made me curious. "Are you okay or do you have children at school ?: What the school madness does to us and our children and how we survive it". We hear that often, also here in the editorial office from many who have children in school: They experience the constant checking, the pressure of grades as a real burden, but still say, of course we practice with our children, of course we hang in there, they are our children. Or they say, we are then a kind of permanent assistant teacher, such a permanent buffer - so we are now talking about school frustration from a parents' perspective. Anke Willers, you wrote the book I was talking about. Is that what has frustrated you so much that this school madness, as you call it, is spilling over into family life more and more?

Anke Willers: Yes absolutely. For us that was the dominant topic for many years. I had two daughters at school in Bavaria, and I would say that this has threatened our family peace for years.

"We always felt obliged to help"

Pfister: What do you mean, he threatened the peace of the family?

Willers: It just provoked a lot of arguments and, above all, a lot of bad feelings. The fact that neither of our children walked through school easily and we always felt compelled to help. And we were also literally asked to do so, in other words, in certificates, where it was stated what should be deepened at home. And so we slipped into the role of assistant teacher - I'll say we now, but especially me as a mother - and that led to a lot of arguments and, if the grades were still not good, of course to a lot of frustration.

"A lot of feelings play a role"

Pfister: And it naturally leads to arguments, because you always signal to the children that you are not good enough, do more, do more, and basically you are the driving force.

Willers: Yes, that is a very ambivalent situation because, of course, when you learn with a child - i.e. everyone who has already tried to learn with their own child, a lot of feelings play a role. The mother or father who then sits there thinks, man, I've already explained the vector calculation three times, why have you still not got it, and then maybe you roll your eyes or something like that. As a result, the child feels under pressure, and this emotional entanglement, which also has to do with the close relationship, firstly leads to the fact that you can no longer learn because you simply have a board in front of your head through this tense situation, and at some point it leads to an argument because the child starts to scream or the mother starts to scream or the father starts. And afterwards everyone feels really bad because feelings and learning material simply mix together. We are just not our children's teachers when it comes to school matters.

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"A child seldom makes it through high school without help"

Pfister: The question is always, why do you join in, why does nobody say, I take myself back and leave the children alone now, because that is also the message that many teachers convey: They should learn to do this independently, we actually want to see the performance of the children here and not the performance of the parents.

Willers: Well, of course we'd all have to do that, but we'd all have to pull together. And if you take the specific situation - in Bavaria, for example, it is the case that the children are distributed to secondary schools after the fourth grade and that the parents cannot have a say, that is, it is only about the grades. And you don't want the child, your own child, to somehow fall behind, and that's why you become active. And you also get active - you said earlier that the teachers say the children should do it on their own, but that's just the message that comes across on the surface. When you talk to teachers privately, they often say that a child rarely makes it through high school without the help of their parents. These are two different messages that you get as a mother and father.

School as a trigger for the "deficient view" of the child

Pfister: Is it a special Bavarian phenomenon?

Willers: No, I know that a lot of parents feel the same way, and a lot of them also say that it was the same for me, that I thought it was very bad that the school did, that I saw my children very quickly with such a deficient look . And I didn't want that, I didn't want to see them that way, I didn't always want to see what they couldn't, but of course I also wanted to see that they were good children and that they could do something. I think it's bad that school does so much to the relationship, when things don't go well at school.

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Pfister: If you cannot change the system, the school system in this achievement society and also the selective school system - that's what it is related to - what middle path you have found for yourself between this, as you have just described, half-hysterical helicopter parenthood and yourself do not care at all?

Willers: Yes, I think that is actually the art of finding that middle ground. For me it was, there was a professional change, I then had to go from Munich to Hamburg for work, on a weekly basis, and as a result I simply couldn't do that much at home anymore. The children then became more active themselves. So it worked very well for the older daughter, who is out of school in the meantime, she was in eighth grade, and she then worked a little with classmates, including her dad, who then had to do more Tutoring, so to speak, then organized quite well and managed to do it well. I was forced to be a little lucky too. Then I noticed, well, at first the grades got even worse, but then they got better again, and then she just got the hang of it. In other words, it was an external circumstance, so to speak, that caused this cut in us. But that didn't work for the little daughter. She is still today - she is now in the tenth grade and is still having a hard time and still needs a lot of support, and I often find myself thinking, man, do I have to intervene, should I help her and so on further.

Statements by our interlocutors reflect their own views. Deutschlandfunk does not adopt statements made by its interlocutors in interviews and discussions as its own.