I have been avoiding this post since I first looked at it this morning. It seems unfair in the midst of all this reflection on professional and personal growth and whatnot to confront that I don't have any family traditions, unless you count the endless cycle of my step-dad entering his latest rehab stint, and the subsequent phone calls and bitterness between my mother, sister, and I. That's the only thing I can think of that my family has done year after year, with relatively little change. I could use my words to spin it into something I'm grateful for; that it has made me a stronger person in many ways, but I don't want to. Right now I just want to be bitter in today's post. I'll get over it when I'm done writing and go downstairs to snuggle with my husband and cats on the couch. That's my kind of tradition.
Instead I'm going to use this post to point out how I hate that our schools and teachers frequently do stuff like this to our students, even though it's unintentional. We make the unfair assumption that there are shared family experiences, things that everyone can relate to. The idea that everyone has family traditions that are even pleasant is so woefully ignorant considering how many of us grow up in at-risk environments. We lament about how we're supposed to get all kids to achieve regardless of what's happening in their homes, and then we treat them just as cruelly by expecting them to conform to some kind of "normal" behavior and thinking while in our care.
The rational part of me realizes that this prompt is innocuous and I shouldn't be upset. Maybe it's because we have parent/teacher conferences right now, and I've heard one too many teachers remark about students' home lives and think that they are stuck because of them, or that only a very few ever move beyond the bad circumstances of their childhood. I get sick of my coworkers making harmless comments like, "These kids aren't growing up with the kind of families we had," while I sit there and try not to roll my eyes. Kids are entirely capable of moving past their at-risk home lives if we don't pigeonhole and pity them. We are educators and we should know better.
I'm going to stop here. This is turning into nonsensical rant-mode. I think it's great that families have traditions, and I look forward to what my other blogging friends write about so I can live vicariously through them.
I teach 7th and 8th grade English in rural Iowa and hope to reflect, connect, and share with other English teachers. Iowa Council of Teachers of English Executive Board member. Iowa Writing Project superfan. UNI MA:TESS graduate.