12/05/2014 03:51 pm ET Updated Feb 04, 2015

Perception or Reality? What's Happening in Our Schools

I can't help but wonder these days what the word perception means. So what does a reasonably intelligent person like myself do; Google it!

Perception (from the Latin perception, percipio) is the organization, identification, and interpretation of sensory information in order to represent and understand the environment. All perception involves signals in the nervous system, which in turn result from physical or chemical stimulation of the sense organs.

This is very deep!

I found another definition on line from Merriman-Webster:

: the way you think about or understand someone or something
: the ability to understand or notice something easily
: the way that you notice or understand something using one of your senses

I am still having a problem with this definition. In our schools, we always wonder what the perception of the parent is as it relates to what is going on in school. But here lies a huge problem for all that we must overcome.

Many times we speak to parents whose first response is, "It's your fault"! Is that where we are in society? Everything is my fault. Do I really have the time to call parents indicating what happens? Then my response becomes why am I doing this?

I have called parents my entire professional career in education. What gives me pause more than anything is what I have just described. It is the perception that a child can do no wrong. I have three children who make mistakes. They do things wrong, but that is the learning process. Why is this so hard for people to understand or accept? I have always used the word perception. It is a parent's perception of what happened, or a child's perception. But is perception the right word?
I guess the definition that best describes this behavior is the way you understand something, from your point of view. Isn't this a way of saying you are wrong? No, we cannot say that. We are a service industry; wrong is not polite. How do we say it?

When I was young, all aspects of the school day were learning experiences. Mistakes happened and I learned right from wrong, success from failure. Parents regularly are forgetting this simple process of the educational day. Is it every parent? Absolutely not! Regularly and on a consistent basis, parents think that schools are misunderstanding their children and our perception is off. From their point of view, there is no other way to see things.

Perhaps the problem is the perception, we don't need this word; we just need a little understanding. Then things might begin to move in the right direction.