July 25, 2014

Do Parents Make Better Teachers? A Childfree Teacher Responds

Teacher

Teacher (Photo credits: www.myparkingsign.com)

When I read the title of the Slate article Parents Make Better Teachers I was livid!

I’ve spent years dedicating my life to children and education. I didn’t need to have kids of my own to make a difference in the classroom.

Do eye doctors need to have glasses?

Do chefs need to be fat?

Do gynecologists need to have vaginas?

So why the sudden childfree discrimination in education?

Author Sara Mosle writes about her teaching experience as a response to an article in this week’s New York Times about high turnovers at charter schools:

“If you aren’t a parent, maybe this won’t strike you as odd. It wouldn’t have struck me that way more than 20 years ago when I joined Teach for America in the program’s first year and taught for three years in New York City’s public schools. I was single, childless, and clueless about even the most basic aspects of child-rearing. My students’ parents seemed like creatures from another planet, remote and distant from the job I thought I was doing. To the extent I understood family dynamics, it was solely from the perspective of the teenager I’d been just a few years before.

Nearly two decades later, I returned to the classroom, this time as a mother, and have become acutely aware of how being a parent has made me a better teacher.”

Fine. But what about life experience and maturity? Does adding twenty years of life to your resume change anything?

As I read more of the article I learned that the sensational headline was misleading. Besides Sara’s personal story this article says that many charter schools hire recent college graduates to teach and after a few years they leave because there is no room for financial growth or advancement. This turnover makes it difficult for students. Recent grad=cheap labor.

Childfree Teachers are Hot

This has nothing to do with parents being better teachers. So why bring the childfree into it? Because we are HOT! The recent TIME magazine cover article stirred up the debate and got clicks so now even Slate is cashing in on the action. Shame on Slate. Many childfree readers, like me, were annoyed by the deception and blatant childfree attack.

The responses to the article were amazing and worth reading. Childfree teachers called out Slate and the author for baiting the childfree for responses. Go team CF!

Still, it doesn’t seem that people actually read the article. Instead they were responding to the ugly headline, so score one for Slate.

Some of the best comments include this one busting Slate for the obvious lure:

From Tom Tildrum:“Old vs. young, school choice, *and* Mommy Wars? Slate’s editor must have plotzed from excitement when they pitched him this article.”

Other favorites include:
from TravisNelson76:

To suggest that schools should have teachers with relevant life experience is not strange. To suggest, however, (as this article does) that relevant life experience can only come with parenthood is VERY STRANGE INDEED. Who would make a better teacher? An 18-year-old mother with no teaching experience? Or a 45-year-old non-parent with twenty years of teaching experience? This article seems to (VERY STRANGELY) suggest the former.

From NinjaofSin:

“You’re not a parent, you can’t possibly understand”

Bah-loney.

From mh:

I went to Catholic schools. None of the nuns had children, but they were excellent teachers.

Childfree Teachers Rock

If you really want to know what this childfree teacher thinks about this subject check out this WNK post:

My Favorite Teacher Didn’t Have Kids

What do you think childfree teachers?

 

 

 

 

 

Mommy, Come See My Poop

One thing you’ll never hear at our house: “Mommy, come see my poop!”

And – just to be clear – no “Daddy, come see my poop” either.

Never. Ever!

Call me self absorbed. Call me squeamish. Call me a Prissy Potty Pooper. Call me whatever you like, but don’t expect me to celebrate a floater unless we’re watching Caddyshack. That’s funny. So funny it’s almost worth celebrating. Though not quite, not unless I’m willing to risk my marriage…

Poopy Flashback

So what’s up with my scatological line of ranting this morning? Déjà vu. A poop flashback!

A little over a decade ago I found myself in Turks and Caicos, miserably happy with my then-girlfriend-now-bride. Pristine beaches, zippy sailing, plein air massages, decadent food and drink, and ten days with the woman who I was (and am still) crazy about. Bliss.

One morning a 4-5 year old boy and his older brother swung by our suite in the morning to visit us before heading off to the ocean. (I’m omitting the name and relationship of the lads to preserve their post-poop years propriety.) They did this most mornings, and we enjoyed it. After eating fresh tropical fruit for breakfast on our balcony we’d debrief the previous days adventures and plan new escapades for the hours ahead. Yes, parents, this side of being around kids is actually really cool for many childfree adults. You see, we share a unique and often exciting bond with kids because, to a degree some of us don’t always admit, we’re not quite as grown up as you!

Suddenly the younger boy burst onto the balcony (I guess he’d wandered off to explore the cool stuff childfree couples leave around their bedrooms?) and grabbed me by the hand. I stood and followed dutifully, thinking he was about to demonstrate how a bra could be used as a catapult or maybe ask me to show him how to make condom water balloons.

He pulled me into the bathroom and pointed into the porcelain throne. “Look!” I looked into the toilet where a Halloween candy sized “Baby Ruth” was floating. I looked at him beaming, and instantly I understood two things. I was supposed to congratulate him in the hopes that this small victory would propel him toward diaper independence. And I would not invite a repeat performance from him or any other little boy (or girl) for the rest of my life. What’s funny in a film is decidedly less funny off-screen.

Yes, parents, I know that you’re rolling your eyes. Fair enough. Juvenile. But honest. And stop rolling your eyes, they might get stuck that way!

Come See My Poop!

So the recent [almost] repeat performance struck a familiar chord. Again I’ll keep the eager crapper’s name and relationship under wraps. It’s only fair. Besides, he’s a cool kid that I enjoy, and his parents are our good friends. Wouldn’t want any hurt feelings, especially since my gripe is with poop inspections and not this specific pooper or poop inspector. Do you follow?

After the youngster’s timely announcement (just prior to dinner), his mother dutifully trotted off to inspect. Cheers (and hugs, or so I imagine since I stayed in the living room and witnessed only the audible congratulations) followed. The turd must have been solid gold. Maybe it’s time to remix the The Golden Goose?

So I get it. Super pooper celebrations fast-track diaper independence. I’m a teacher; this is familiar pedagogical territory. Except that my lessons steer clear of toilets. Childfree bias, I guess. That said, I don’t want to wrap this rant without a heartfelt “Thank you!” to all the parents who celebrate their tikes’ turds. Golden or otherwise. Especially when it works. Because I’m not equipped to deal with a world full of crappy britches, and poop inspections and celebrations are best left to Bill Murray.

 

Friday Funny- Why No Kids? Black Thumb.

Hopefully this explains everything:

photo-35

Also this: (Who kills succulents??? Me.)

photo-34

In 2002, I had a cactus for almost a month! Eleven years later I decided to try again with little success.

In 1998, I got a puppy! In 1999, I gave it to my folks.Good news: fourteen years later they are not so eager for grandkids!

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Phew! It’s good to be childfree! Also, it’s probably for the best that I don’t have any living things to look after.

 

Friday Funny! Our TIME Magazine response (just kidding)

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The TIME magazine article, “The Childfree Life: When having it all means not having children,” has sparked an electric storm of media attention. It’s a shame the writers at WNK are too busy enjoying a childfree summer on the lake to respond. We kid! No…wait! We DON’T kid! We have a lot to say but we are busy boating AND reading all the articles about the TIME hoopla. We promise to comment soon! For now we offer you a “Friday Funny” and hope that you all remember to laugh a little more today since everyday is Friday when you are childfree!

 

For some reason we find this cartoon hilarious.

Do you agree? Funny or not here we come!

If you have a “Friday Funny” for WNK please share!

Submit additions to a childfree dictionary?

മലയാളം: പാഷൻ ഫ്രൂട്ട്

മലയാളം: പാഷൻ ഫ്രൂട്ട് (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I like the idea of a childfree dictionary. Tongue-in-cheek of course, no haters please! While “crotchfruit” may be condescending, insulting or disgusting, it is damn creative, if not just plain funny. No?

Babble’s Jabberwocky explains the peculiar language of the childfree culture.

So go ahead. Try not to be mean, but give us your contributions and definitions for a child free dictionary. We’ll re-post the tally.

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No Quiet Zones for this childfree traveler?

 

English: Air Asia X Airbus A340-300 (9M-XAB) a...

English: Air Asia X Airbus A340-300 (9M-XAB) approaching Stansted Airport (STN) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By now we’ve all heard about Air Asia X’s quiet zones, seven designated economy class rows at the front of planes where children under 12 are not allowed, a point of contention for some pissed off parents and a supposed paradise for business travelers and the childfree, like me.

 

To access this frequent flyers’ Eden, you need only pay the extra $11-$35 fee might otherwise pay for apremium seat. But what do you get for your money?

 

You get a bulkhead barrier and a childfree bathroom (which is never enforced by attendants). So In the short-term, you may, if you are very lucky, get some relief from screaming and seat kicking. But I think quiet zones are actually a huge risk, and may ultimately turn basic economy cabins into a flying free for all.

 

Noise travels and reverberates and quiet zone seats do not come with complimentary noise-cancelling headphones. If you are seated at the back of the quiet zone, a screaming, kid could still be seated directly behind you.

 

You remember the smoking section? Sure, the air was worse in the back of the plane than the front, but the entire plane reeked, and sitting one row in front of the smokers was no better than joining them.

 

I shouldn’t care how people choose to spend their money, and as a childfree traveler I should probably encourage Air Asia X’s strategy, even if it is gimmicky. If they are successful, maybe other businesses will recognize the spending power of childfree travelers and exhausted parents’ need/desire for peace and quiet when they are on a date or vacation.

 

But for now, I am skeptical about QUIET ZONES.

 

I think the risks of segregated seating could ultimately outweigh the rewards.

 

I am concerned that quiet zones may perpetuate an “us against them” mentality, a friction that is not conducive to peaceful interactions in confined spaces with absolutely NO EXIT STRATEGY.

 

Also, I don’t like paying for things that should be free. Like simple consideration of others.

 

The bar for acceptable behavior in public spaces, for kids and adults, is already set so, so low. And I think setting a precedent where people have to pay extra for a little (or no) peace and consideration may lead to the bar falling to Chuck E Chees setting, where parents can sit back and let their kids go crazy.

 

Imagine yourself sitting on an Air Asia X light in row 20. A kid’s video game is chiming and beeping. He’s kicking your seat while his sister runs the aisle (even through the premium seats) shrieking. After 2 hours, you’re compelled to say something. You politely ask the parents if they might turn down the volume or put an end to the chair soccer. They not so politely tell you that you can pay up to move up, or shut up. Then what?

 

Parents are overworked and exhausted and the last thing they want to do on vacation is worry so much about offending others that they nag and scold their child until they break down completely, start crying or screaming, and offend others anyway. These are tiresome battles to fight for the benefit of others. And the value of considering those around you already appears to be waning in our society.

 

So when Air Asia or another airline steps in to set the standard for behavior in one particular part of the plane, are they effectively obliterating the societal standard for the rest of it? Are they telling parents in the rest of the plane that they no longer need to fight the battle at all? By saying, “THIS zone is for quiet people”, are they insinuating that the other section is for loud people? By defining rules for one section, are they suggesting that there are NO rules in the other (at least enough so that exhausted, indifferent or lazy parents can let their guards down and lower their expectations even further?

 

I say yes.

 

There is no reason for parents to try at all (or at least an excuse not to) when an institution defines rules that should be self evident, and effectively assumes the role of the quiet police. Even if we all know it is just a gimmick to make more money.

 

My fear or theory is: When institutions step in, many parents check out. And we all lose. Instead of being accountable to one another, we become accountable to the powers that be, even if that “power” is a profit driven company with little interest in enforcing their policy.

 

So, for me, Quiet Zones are not something I want to encourage or support necessarily. They are not effective or realistic, not worth the extra fee, and ultimately, maybe risky.

 

What do you think?

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Childfree Friday Funny – Sh*t My Kids Ruined

At the end of each week we try to lighten the mood with some childfree humor.

This week let us introduce you to the hilarious  Sh*t My Kids Ruined

After all everyday is a Friday to the childfree!

 

Childfree Celebrities: World Leaders Edition–Women’s History Month

at news conference, Women's Action Alliance.

at news conference, Women’s Action Alliance. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Sonia Sotomayor, U.S. Supreme Court j...

English: Sonia Sotomayor, U.S. Supreme Court justice (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

On the last day of Women’s History Month let’s celebrate childfree female pioneers in business, education, science, industry and politics.

Let’s pledge to celebrate brave, inspirational childfree women of all flavors all year long!

Fabulous childfree female leaders:

Queen Elizabeth I – Queen of England

Clara Barton – Organized the American Red Cross

Rosa Parks – Civil rights activist

Gloria Steinem – Feminist

Rachel Carson – Conservationist

Sally Ride – First American woman in space

Sonia Sotomayor – Supreme Court Justice

Elena Kagan – Supreme Court Justice

Florence Nightingale – Founder of modern nursing

Juliette Gordon Lowe – Founder of the Girl Scouts of the USA

Susan B. Anthony – Civil rights leader and campaigner for women’s suffrage

Condoleezza Rice -  United States Secretary of State

Mother Teresa – Nun

Nellie Bly – Pioneer female journalist

Joan of Arc – Roman Catholic saint

Helen Keller – Blind and deaf author, political activist, and lecturer

bell hooks – Feminist, and social activist

Angela Davis – Political activist and author

Eva Peron – First Lady of Argentina

Julia Gillard – Prime minister of Australia

Helen Clark – Prime Minister of New Zealand

Temple Grandin -Doctor of animal science and author

Gertrude Belle Elion – Biochemist and pharmacologist who played a key role in developing the AIDS drug AZT. Nobel Prize winner. First woman to be inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame.

Margaret Bourke-White -First female war correspondent

Julia Butterfly Hill – Activist and environmentalist, best known for protecting a California Redwood tree by living in it for 738 days

Alice Paul and Lucy Burns – Suffragists who helped the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment to the US Constitution in 1920

WNKettes please share the names of other fine women you think should be included on our list!

 

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Childfree Travel: No Kids Allowed

While we at WNK are pleased to see that the childfree travel discussion is happening more publicly and frequently, we are frustrated with how the questions are framed in many of these types of interviews that make the quest for quiet and serenity seem discriminatory. The participants in the following video actually question the legality of childfree travel destinations. While virtually every hotel is child or family friendly and there are plenty of kidcentric places: Disney World, Chuck E Cheese, etc., we wonder why it is such a problem to have a few adult only hotels, floors, pools or even sections of hotels?

Childfree Travel Questions

The following childfree travel questions come from the article at NECN.com:

Is it really right to ban children from hotels and other establishments?

o While it’s not precisely legal in the US (it is in other parts of the world-so during international travel in hotels and on certain sections of airlines, do check), some establishments advertise themselves as “adults only” (but not in that sense). Restaurants led the way on this, but now many hotels are joining in.

What is driving this change?

o The biggest source is changing demographics. We have many more DINKs than ever before (Double Income No Kids) who have the resources to want to travel in the lap of luxury.

o Additionally almost 20 percent of women today won’t have kids-a number that has basically doubled since the 1970s. This means that some may be less tolerant of children than before, and that this new/growing market segment wants tailored services.

Is not allowing children in hotels and other establishments really the best strategy?

o Probably not. How else will children ever learn to behave properly unless they are exposed to these situations?”

As you take your February break we’d like to hear your thoughts on childfree sections of planes, hotels and restaurants. Please share your favorite escapes for childfree serenity!

Related articles:

 

 

 

Two Children or Three?

Small and romantic road

Romantic Umbria (Credit: adamo1978)

Time for a timeless flashback… Topic? Children versus adventure. Children versus carefree, fiesta marriage lifestyle. Children versus spontaneous travel. Remember this riff?

In The Juggle,  WSJ.com blog about “choices and tradeoffs people make as they juggle work and family” John J. Edwards III waxed nostalgic for the early days of marriage before he had children.

Like many married-with-kids jugglers, my wife and I look back fondly on our pre-children days… we had many fun times and adventures, from frequent parties in our apartment to a surprise long weekend in Paris. (WSJ.com)

He ruminates on the lifestyle freedom enjoyed by couples who opt not to embrace parenting but concedes that

it’s a cohort that often finds itself misunderstood or even ostracized as friends procreate. (WSJ.com)

He refers to a story posted at DINKlife.com by a woman who has endured countless painful experiences due to her childfree choice.

“but the statement we feel best sums it all up was when a very close couple told us that they did not see us in their lives anymore as we were making the ‘unnatural choice.’ ” (WSJ.com)

The author wraps up with a palpable yearning for the days when he and his bride could zip off to Umbria, Italy like his childfree colleagues at work, but is quick to admit that his suburban social bubble is kid central with nary a childfree couple in the mix.

In fact, the big question generally is “two children or three?” rather than whether or not to have kids. (WSJ.com)