Do You Want Your Kid to Have a Teacher Who's Not a Parent?

Rant 29

classroomWhenever anyone says mothers are "better" at things than non-parents, I feel a twinge of sympathy for the child-free. How presumptuous is it to assume that one's parental status makes them "better"? And so it is with the assertion that parents make better teachers.

That's the title of a controversial article by Sara Mosle that appeared in Slate just in time for back to school. A mother and a teacher both, Mosle claims she's better at the job now that she has a daughter than she was two decades ago when she was just starting out.

Fair enough, but perhaps that has more to do with two decades of experience in adulthood than with her progeny?

Sure, parents can make for good teachers. I sent my daughter off to school this morning and into the classroom of a mother of two. I'm hoping for a good year, a year not unlike the last three she's had -- each with mothers.

Is it because these women had children that they were so responsive to my daughter's fears, so encouraging of her love of reading, so willing to dole out hugs and tissues? Maybe.

Then again, her kindergarten teacher has been teaching in the district for decades, and her daughter is not much older than my own -- perhaps 10 or 11 at most. She has been a teacher far longer than she's been a mother, and she's always been beloved by her students and their parents both. She was "the" teacher to get well before her child came along. 

It had nothing to do with motherhood and everything to do with the fact that she was simply the right sort of person for the job.

There are single people and married people without kids who are the right sort of person for teaching -- tons of them. Some of my favorite teachers had no children (and still don't). They were still warm, still nurturing, and had lasting impacts on my life.

Heck, they brought things to job that their fellow parents could not because they had NO kids at home. Think about it -- they didn't get burnt out on kiddom. They went home at night and got real sleep! They didn't spend their mornings waging a war over teeth brushing, sneaker finding, and lunch preparing before arriving in a classroom and having to face 22 sneaker-wearing, gap-toothed grinning children toting lunch boxes.

They weren't there because the job guaranteed they wouldn't have to pay a sitter during summer and Christmas vacations. They had true delineations between their private lives and their work lives.

If that's what it takes to get a good teacher for my kid, so be it.

I want a teacher who loves kids -- whether they have them or not -- and who has the patience to work with them. I want a teacher who loves learning so much that they want to spread that love.

I want them to be there for my kid.

And if the only person who meets those criteria has no kids, I'm sure as heck not going to say, "Eh, no, let's get a Mom in here, because she'll do a better job."

Do you think teachers should have to be parents?


Image via Eric James Sarmiento/Flickr

back to school, elementary school, education


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the4m... the4mutts

Have to be? No. That's just ignorant.

However, I have noticed that for female teachers, mothers with kids under 18 (and definitely not grandmothers) make the best teachers for MY kids. Maybe not for all kids, but for mine. It's a style of leadership my kids are used to, and thrive under.

Male teachers? Only my son has had them, 1 is a father, 1 is not (and is also gay) and both seem to be good teachers.

B1Bomber B1Bomber

The best teacher I ever had was a late-middle-aged bachelor, never married, no kids. He was a Korean War vet and truly loved both his students and his job. When I started teaching, my goal was to have the impact on one student sometime in my career that he had on me and nearly all my peers.

peanu... peanutsmommy1

That is just absurd. My DS's teacher was lucky enough to have an adoption go through just after Christmas last year after years of failed fertility treatments and a failed adoption the year before. Does being a mom make her a different teacher, sure, but a better one?

nonmember avatar Katy Ann

My aunt is a school teacher. She was born with a rare disorder that makes her unable to ovulate. She has never even had a period. When we were younger she used to always tell us that no, she could not afford to adopt a baby... but she gets 25+ new ones a year ;)

nonmember avatar flowerpower

the4mutts ... a gay male school teacher for your SON? Anything she said there alarming anyone else?

Chana... Chanandler.Bong

I don't think being a parent makes you a better teacher. However, I do think that having that maternal/nurturing instinct does make you a better teacher. Some people are born with it and naturally are able to relate with children from the get go. Some become better at it once they have kids. That may be what people see when they notice a difference between a teacher before kids and after kids. The best teachers think outside of their job qualifications and treat children for the unique, special human beings they are. For some people, but not all, the ability to really "get" kids does come after they have experience with their own children.

Craft... CraftyJenna

Not everyone is a closed-minded bigot, flowerpower. 

nonmember avatar annoyed

No, flowerpower, nothing she said alarmed anyone else. Being gay doesn't make you a pedofile. Straight women like men too. That doesn't mean they like little boys. Educate yourself and/or stop trolling.

keelh... keelhaulrose

Flowerpower, with the number of straight teachers caught with students vs the number of gay teachers (I can name ten of the former off the top of my head and none of the latter) perhaps I should be more concerned over the male teachers with my daughter. 

nonmember avatar posh

I agree with flowerpower, don't be surprised if your son, who has a male teacher wakes up one morning claiming he's gay! Because teachers are more or less perceived as role models to children. And crafty, if you were wise and a parent (not that I view you as any of the both) you would not expose your son to a gay teacher.

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