So much on my mind that I can’t recline…

Grad school is a trip.

Everybody wants evidence. Sources. Citations. Quantitative. Qualitative.

Daily I’m bombarded with “how do you know?” , “where did you get this?” and my favorite “who else has said this?”.  As you can imagine, anecdotal evidence nor my experience just isn’t enough. That’s my professional life though, so I expect it….

I get offended when, during informal conversations, parents and teachers  ask my opinion and then quickly dismiss my suggestions.

It happened recently.

Twice.

In their “Yeeeahhhh, butttt….” I could hear “Where’s your evidence?”, “Who else said this?”… “How do you know?”

Well this one’s for ya’ll:

I’m one of the luckiest ones I suspect; I have the good fortune of being both a parent and a teacher. Thirteen years in the classroom and sixteen years as a parent have made me something of a resident “expert”. According to Malcolm Gladwell in his book Outliers , 10000 hours is all that being an expert in virtually ANYTHING requires.

Hmmm….in terms of being a mother, I figure that’s 24 hours in a day X 365 days in a year – 65 days of summer and winter vacations away from him puts me at 7200 hours in a year.  If I multiply that by 16 years that gives me 115,200 hours.

As far as my teaching goes: 6 hours/day multiplied by 160 (low estimate) school days in a year puts me at 960 hours a year. If I multiply that by 13, I get 12480 hours of teaching. That does NOT include summer school teaching OR my position as an adjunct faculty member.

So yeah. I’m an expert. Dagnabit. 🙂

On Parenting/Teaching

The first two years are CRUCIAL for setting the tone. Much like the first two weeks of school. In both instances, the decisions you make (or don’t), the culture you create (or don’t), and the rapport you develop (or don’t) with the young’uns determine the next 9 months or 16 years.  I’m not saying it’s impossible to establish balance, peace, and harmony later on, but understand the struggle that awaits…

And even when the foundation has been laid, no crystal stair spirals to greet thee.

I tire of us blaming the children.

I tire of the shock and awed adults who just “can’t understand” how this happened.

I tire of the blame being placed on teachers.

I tire of the blame being placed on parents.

Our children/students don’t really need us to be their friends.

Our children/students need us to be their parents and teachers.

Our children/students don’t really need us to be cool and hip.

Our children/students need us to be firm and consistent.

Our children/students don’t really need us to smother, shelter, and protect them from the real world.

Our children/students need us to equip them with the critical consciousness, spiritual/ethical/moral grounding, and emotional competence to navigate and negotiate the real world.

Our children/students don’t need to do as we say.

Our children/students need us to do as we say.

Sincerely,

Salina (expert parent and teacher :))

3 thoughts on “So much on my mind that I can’t recline…

  1. Grad school does start to make you question parents as experts on their kids. I do it all the time, and I’m sure it drives my friends crazy. On one hand, I’m like, “Just because you think your kid is brilliant/crazy/wonderful/gifted/etc, what about the wealth of “evidence” out there that says the opposite?” but on the other hand, I realize that parents do know so much more about their kid than mostly anybody else. But as a scientist, I’m like, your data is faulty because it’s based on an anecdote. And I’m sick of folks making parenting generalizations based on their one kid. Fine, if you are talking only about what works on YOUR kid, but you can’t generalize off your ONE kid. Statistics are against you. It drives me absolutely nuts. And it drives the people around me nuts that it drive me nuts. Good thing I do mostly qualitative , interview based work, where I tell stories, but a lot of them so I can generalize from words and not just numbers. That’s a happy medium.

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  2. “Our children/students don’t need to do as we say. Our children/students need us to do as we say.” That’s my favorite expert tip of all!

    Would you talk a little bit more about setting the tone in the first 2 years? How does one set the tone with a 15-month old who has 4 teeth, a handful of words, and a lot of strong will???

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  3. Sorry Orj for my delay! I keep thinking that I’m going to get some kind of notification when someone responds…but because I’m the author of this blog, I don’t. lol

    15 month is such a lovely time! I’m not REALLY an expert, lol, but I CONSTANTLY find people (in grad school) who want evidence and want to know what the research says (literally) even in a casual, informal conversation about parenting! It’s crazy… but

    BUT, setting the tone is really what you make it. I know that I was and am a stickler for order and discipline, and I generally don’t like calling children’s names more than once in a given moment. lol. So I worked on that CONSTANTLY with my son. I did sleep training EARLY, because I didn’t want to have a toddler who couldnt and wouldnt sleep. I was pretty serious about eating: you sit at the table and 1) you don’t get a drink until your finished and 2) you WILL not get up until your plate is clean (which means I gave very small portions so that I wasn’t setting us both up for failure) and then I’d give more if he wanted and 3) he didn’t get to choose what he liked and didn’t like to eat (I thought it was my responsibility to give him a wiiiide variety of food so he would have an advanced palate…). And it worked out: he loves food of all types. Once he got to be older (like 8 or so) THEN I’d ask him what he wanted to eat… and he had enough experience with food to know. lol

    ummm…yeah, so I’d say, think about what you want your child’s habits to be like when they’re older, and kind of work backwards. (Like backwards lesson planning, lol)

    Thank you for reading this by the way!!

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