redsnake05: Art by Audrey Kawasaki (Subversive teaching)
[personal profile] redsnake05 posting in [community profile] teaching
I used to have an icon on LJ that said "Do I look like a motherfucking role model?", and it was an awesome icon. I don't have it here (which I might rectify later), but I do have the concept still, of why would I want to be a role model?

Two teaching-specific reasons that I have thought of this week:

1. I have a non-traditional family structure, in that my daughter lives with her father, but I am friends with him and there is (minimal) fighting and animosity. Many of my female students, in particular, come back to this point again and again - how can I not be the full-time parent of my child? Even when I point out that I work full-time but my ex is a full-time parent, or that he is more patient and better at tree-climbing/story-telling/castle-building, they still have this deep assumption about the mother being the main parent. I like to think I am doing my bit for undermining gender roles.

2. I'm out at school. I'm bisexual, or 'half-gay' as one of my students charmingly puts it. No one really cares, not the students or my colleagues, or the school's administration. It's just the way it is, and no one cares. But it gives students who are queer, or questioning, the definite proof that being gay is not the end of the world.

So, this week, I have come up against both of these aspects of being a role model. Everytime, I have to stop and think about being a role model, and make sure it's a positive thing. Am I encouraging diversity and respect through my modelling? Sometimes, I worry about the responsibility.

Do other teachers sometimes struggle with being a good role model? Do you make conscious decisions about what sort of role model you're going to be? How do you do that? Some of you, I know, work in places where being a teacher is much, much more hedged in and you have less freedom than I do. How do you deal with that?

Date: 2010-04-21 11:01 pm (UTC)
used_songs: (Ginger Rogers)
From: [personal profile] used_songs
The me the kids get at school is very different from the real me in many ways. To me, the biggest difference is that I'm not out at school. So no matter how much I don't tolerate homophobia, it doesn't drive the point home the way it maybe would if I were out.

On the other hand, I do model being a childless adult who is perfectly satisfied not to have children. This is always something that the female students (and sometimes the male ones) remark upon because it's outside of their experience generally.



Date: 2010-04-22 11:13 am (UTC)
used_songs: (Ben mostly harmless)
From: [personal profile] used_songs
I guess so. Every year they always ask if I have children and then don't really know what to say when I smile and say no.

Date: 2010-04-22 01:52 am (UTC)
yaramaz: (Default)
From: [personal profile] yaramaz
I'm not sure how much of a model I can be (aside from being a kind, patient person who tries to work hard when necessary). So much of who I am and what I do goes against the grain of my kids' culture- I'm childless at 35, shacked up with my boyfriend of nearly 3 years with no plans to get married. I've changed jobs and careers a dozen times in the past decade or so(though, admittedly, have stuck with teaching consistently since 2002). My politics are decidedly NOT what is wanted/accepted here, officially. I tend to do at least a dozen subversive acts every day, even if only in the privacy of my own home or blogs or head. I can't share these things with my kids though. I can't tell them outright that I support gay marriage (even hetero cohabitation is touchy). I can't mention human rights issues- at least not in any depth and certainly not involving their own nation. Part of me feels that I am not being honest with my kids by silencing such a huge part of who I am but really, I have no legal choice. It was the same in Turkey with all the laws against 'insulting Turkishness'-- these are both cultural and political and the repercussions are serious.

Date: 2010-04-22 05:23 am (UTC)
yaramaz: (Default)
From: [personal profile] yaramaz
I'm trying to be a good Western Foreigner- at least, trying to not be one of the alcoholic, racist, oblivious twits I've met over the years.

I gotta say, sometimes I just wish I had a desk job and didn't have to be held up to anyone for scrutiny or role modelling or whatnot. Being constantly on display for your entire adult life (esp if fairly introverted)is exhausting. I made the choice to teach and more pointedly, to teach in awkwardly different countries from my own. When I lived in central Turkey, I had to be super modest and not smile at men lest I be thought a whore (whoops- knee skirts and smiling hello at male friends= incorrigible western tart). Here I need to keep my mouth shut about nearly everything that's really important to me while still trying to help the kids develop into thoughtful adults.... eeek...

Date: 2010-04-22 11:17 am (UTC)
used_songs: (Ben mostly harmless)
From: [personal profile] used_songs
sometimes I just wish I had a desk job and didn't have to be held up to anyone for scrutiny or role modelling or whatnot.

This. Emphatically. It does get tiring. I know here in Texas we have all of these vague morals clauses in our teacher contracts that enable them to get rid of teachers for not toeing the line. I've never been the kind of person to indulge in public drunkenness or post revealing photos online, but I still often feel as though I'm being watched all the time. Maybe that's one reason I like online interactions so much.

Whenever I'm out and about I'm always wary of being ambushed. I've seen parents/students at my favorite bookstores, at the grocery, at public events, etc.

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