How does school influence us?

sofatutor magazine parents

In order for a child to be successful in school, there are three pillars on which they must be able to build: the home, the teacher and personal motivation to learn.

Half the battle - the parental home

According to a 2013 study by the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW), the educational success of children depends 50 percent on the socio-economic status of the parental home. That is a shockingly high proportion. According to the director of studies, Daniel Schnitzlein, there is “hardly any equality of opportunity” in Germany.

The opportunities for advancement for children from poorer social classes are as difficult in Germany as in the USA, according to economist Schnitzlein. Even there, only a few children can achieve a higher level of education than their parents.

With fun to learning success - that's how it's done

The DIW study comes to the conclusion that parents (and their education) have a stronger influence on the educational success of their child than on their height. In other words, a child is more likely to do poorly in school because their parents had a basic education than they are to grow up as their parents.

The researchers could not clearly say how this disparity can be addressed and equal opportunities for children can be increased. However, Daniel Schnitzlein refers to Danish studies. It is said there that educational success is not so much to do with the cultural background of the family, but much more to do with the educational system and its structure. Schnitzlein concludes from this that it is the task of the German education system to provide children with opportunities for self-fulfillment. The families themselves couldn't do that much.

PISA and equity in education

The OECD, which is responsible for the PISA study, also supports the thesis that school success in Germany largely depends on social origin. The FAZ has examined whether this statement can be maintained. It found that of 26 countries that, according to the OECD, had above-average educational equity, 16 performed below average in the comparative test.

So one cannot and should not seek all responsibility for educational success with the parents and their home library. It is much more a question of the means available with which parents can even enable their children to secure their education independently.

The crux of the matter - the teacher

Teachers have long been known to be one of the most important factors in children's academic success. Thanks to the Hattie study, which evaluated 65,000 study results for the first time in 2013, they know what influences students the most when they learn: the conviction with which they are themselves in the matter. Hattie describes this factor as “collective teacher efficacy” and means that teachers are not only aware that they are instrumental in shaping children's learning and that they believe that they can help their students. It is also a matter of jointly setting goals and that the way of working within the staff is confirmed or refuted with facts and figures: Was it good how we worked? Were we able to improve student performance?

Other important influencing factors in the context of teaching are that children can evaluate their work themselves and that teachers communicate their expectations as clearly as possible in advance.

In addition to the task of imparting knowledge and education, the teacher also has the role of coach. Only those who manage to convincingly convey their enthusiasm for the subject and the material and think about their work in relation to the students will be able to get carried away. According to the evaluation of the educational scientist John Hattie, no elective lessons and no stress-free learning environment bring as much to the educational success of children as making the teacher aware of his or her task.

The personal claim - growth mindset

In order for children to be successful in school, they need motivation to learn. This motivation can result from five different starting situations:

  • by external pressure,
  • for fear of bad grades,
  • out of a sense of duty,
  • through the knowledge that learning can bring something,
  • because there is interest in the material.

This last motivation, in which children want to penetrate the material and link or deepen it with previous knowledge, is the optimal motivation to learn, says the Hamburg education researcher Rolf Schulmeister. It is clear that a child cannot always and constantly maintain this so-called self-determined motivation to learn.

Still, there is a positive attitude towards learning that ensures that a goal is achieved. And there is also a negative attitude, which is more likely to lead to failure and which increases the aversion to school or learning. This positive self-awareness can be learned. In this way, children arrive at a "flexible self-image" (growth mindset) in which they learn that their efforts lead to success, that mistakes mean experiences and that there is no valid statement á la "I just can't do it".


Cover picture: © granata68 /

What to do now ...

  1. Motivation in learning is the key to your child's learning success. Get the Motivation tips from teacher Giulianoin this video.
  2. Go on Journey of discovery and take a look at what sofatutor has to offer for you and your child.
  3. To convince Yourself and test sofatutor 30 days long free.

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