The (only partly satirical) Case for the Unwed Schoolmarm

woman-3By Nick McDaniels — I have written before about how being a parent has greatly informed and improved my teaching, has built incredibly strong bonds with my students, and has generally shaped my perspective on the importance of caring for the whole of every child.

But, as I struggle to stay after school to meet with students so I can be sure to pick my daughter up from childcare on time and drag my hungry and tired four-year-old to the district courthouse for evening mock trial events, I have started to realize that having family responsibilities outside of school makes it impossible, particularly in the most under-resourced schools, to be the both the transformative and impactful parent and teacher that most teachers/parents want to be.

My typical blog post would then explore the labor needs of workers, why we need more teachers, smaller class-sizes, more off-days, etc…  But let’s explore a different option.

Maybe all teachers should be without families in the traditional sense.  

Some religious schools adopt a model such as this, on one theory, among many, that then teachers can treat students as family, as their children, and be burdened and enriched only with the care of students, not with their own offspring.  But I’d venture to say there are some, but not many nuns and priests teaching in extremely under-resourced public schools.

Alt. Cert Programs, particularly Teach for America, which, though not as exclusively as it used to, recruits 22-year-old smart people, most of whom I have met claim only themselves as dependents on their 1040EZs (if they are not claimed by someone else).  But, as I’ve witnessed, many, not all, 22-year-olds, despite have tons of time to devote to students, have limited life experience that comes with age and responsibility.

So come on all ye one-room-schoolhouse, unwed, schoolmarms (consider this usage gender-neutral) of pioneer days of yore.  You are needed once more in America’s cities and rural communities.  Bring with you your years of worldly-experience, your mother/father-to-all instincts, your ample time.  We need you!  The conditions here are too overwhelming for anyone who wants to be a good spouse, parent, and teacher.


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