The Role of Parents in the Conspiracy for the Good

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The Art of Teaching: A Conference for Teaching Men


November 9-11 • The Heights School, Potomac, MD

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We have often heard it said that parents are the primary educators of their children.  Among others, we find the seeds of this idea in Cicero, for whom nature herself has instilled a “strangely tender love” for one’s children.  It is likewise hinted at in Aquinas, who referred to the parental care of young children as a sort of “spiritual womb”.  More to the point, just over half a century ago The Church herself, in Gravissimum educationis, has reminded us of this fundamental fact: “since parents have given children their life, they are bound by the most serious obligation to educate their offspring and therefore must be recognized as the primary and principal educators.”  For this reason we view education as a partnership and as a co-conspiracy for the good of the boy.

In other episodes we have discussed the role of parents as educators of their children.  Similarly, we have considered the school’s side of the great conspiracy for the good of the boy.  We are aware of our duties, of how we sometimes fall short as teachers, and of our obligation to rise and fight to the end for the good for the good of our students.

In this week’s episode, we shift our focus to the role of parents and their duties towards school and community in the educational partnership.  Alvaro responds to the following questions:

  1. What is some general advice for parents when they enter into partnership with a school?
    1. Enter the partnership wisely; know what the school is about.
    2. Enter the partnership fully, without eroding any piece of what the school has to offer both curricularly and extracurricularly.
    3. Stay on task when your child encounters a difficulty; the goal is education, not pain-free comfort.
  2. What is the general relationship between parents and their child viz. the school?
    1. The formation of the whole person
    2. Avoid advocating and over-protecting
    3. Conspire with the school for the good of the child
    4. Match the culture of school and the culture of the home.
  3. What is the task of parents as co-partners with the parents of their children’s friends?
    1. It is important to know the parents of your children’s friends
    2. Take an interest in your son’s friends not merely as a group, but as individuals.
    3. Work together with your son’s friends’ parents
  4. What is the role of parents viz. their child’s teachers?
    1. Be a matchmaker: strengthen your son’s relationship with his teachers, just as his teachers should support a child’s relationship with his parents
    2. Clarify with a teacher if there any question about what is happening at school
    3. Be honest with teachers, providing information that you think would facilitate his work in the formation of your child

Show Highlights 

  • Parents and teachers: the conspiracy for the good
  • What a school can hope for from the parents in this benevolent conspiracy
  • What is the general role of parents?
  • What does that actually mean for parents to be primary educators?
  • Parents’ task with regard to their relationship with son
  • Parents as co-partners with other parents
  • The role of parents as partners of their son’s teachers

Also on The Forum

Family Culture with Mr. Alvaro de Vicente

On Home as Social Hub with Mr. Tom Royals

Ways to Foster a Family Culture by Mr. Alvaro de Vicente

Creating a Culture of Learning in the Home by Mr. Alvaro de Vicente

Parents as Primary Educators by Mr. Michael Moynihan

“The Talk”: On the Role of Schools and Fathers with Mr. Michael Moynihan

Alvaro de Vicente

About the guest:

Alvaro de Vicente


Alvaro de Vicente has served as Headmaster of The Heights School in Potomac, Maryland since July 2002. Originally from Santander, Spain, Alvaro received some of his secondary education at The Heights and graduated from there in 1983. In 1987 he graduated cum laude from Georgetown University with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Philosophy and received his J.D. from Georgetown University School of Law in 1991. As Executive Director of the Tenley Study Center from 1989 to 2002, he organized and managed supplemental development programs to several hundred students and professionals per year. Several of the Center’s programs were replicated and became standard programs for other supplemental education centers in the United States and abroad. While employed full-time by the Tenley Study Center, Mr. de Vicente offered his services on a part-time basis to The Heights School. Between 1992 and 2002, Mr. de Vicente assisted the School in various positions; coaching, establishing and running its college counseling office, school administrator overseeing contracts with vendors, and student advisor. From 1995 to 2001, Mr. de Vicente served on The Heights School’s Board of Directors, the last four years as its vice-president. In addition, Mr. de Vicente also serves on the Board of Trustees of two other educational groups; the Youth Leadership Foundation and the Texas Education Works. In his capacity as Headmaster of The Heights School he spearheaded and supervised the construction of the School’s signature building. But Mr. de Vicente’s most important work is in the classroom where he teaches Catholic Apologetics and in mentoring students daily.