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Lehrer's Kinder, Pfarrer's Vieh, gedeihen selten oder nie! (cross-blogged from

This is an old German saying, roughly translates to:

A teacher's children and a priest's cattle will rarely turn out well if ever.

Does being an educator make a difference to raising our own children, does being a parent make a difference to our work as educators, and how?

Let's imagine you are a wonderful teacher BC (= before children). Your first child arrives and as for all parents your world gets turned upside down by the needs of this little person. If you are working in the early weeks and months of your bundle's arrival, you might have less time to prepare your lessons than BC, but you gain a different perspective of how little people grow and learn. You gain a different perspective of what is important in life - there is a life outside school!

As time goes by the little person grows bigger and a little less dependant but as my mother has always said 'little children, little worries - big children, big worries!'. You learn to become better and better at multi-tasking, marking your recounts while you cook dinner with a pre-schooler throwing a tantrum etc. You get wiser, though maybe a bit disillusioned about the enthusiasm you used to put into your preparation and teaching BC and now no longer can fathom. There might be times when you regret a parental decision you made, the way you acted / spoke when your child wanted you while you just had to put the finishing touch on the preparation for your school trip etc. Being an educator and a parent today is hard work.

Being a parent with an educator background can be very challenging:

  • You know what to expect of a child at a certain age
  • You know what to expect of their school and their teacher
  • You know the limitations of what they are realistically able to provide for your child - especially so when we are friends with the teacher
  • Their school / teacher has certain expectations of your child and you.

One example is how my youngest son's teacher who is a friend told me on Friday my son was the only one in his class who did not get 100% in his spelling (he got 90%) which for the son of a teacher was disappointing. She certainly did not mean to be mean and horrible, but I was struck by the stereo type included in her comment: Does a teacher's child always need to do their homework (our life is very busy, and this teacher knows that we don't always get around to do it)? Does a teacher's child need to be as good (better?) than other children? Isn't this stereotyping?

I am getting more and more intrigued by stereotyping. I thought of myself as free of stereotypes some time ago, and yet, I hold plenty of them! Where do they come from? Do they change over time and how? What clipart do you want to be represented by and why?

So how about you, how does being an educator influence your parenting, and how does being a parent influence your teaching? to be continued...

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Comment by Nathaniel Louwrens on May 6, 2016 at 14:15

Wow Monika! What a great post!

"What clipart do you want to be represented by" stood out to me too! An interesting way to consider it.

I haven't come across the notion that because my children have an educator for a parent that they should be doing as well as or better than their peers. I must say though, that I often feel like I haven't taught them much at all! (I know I have, but sometimes it can be difficult to see). 

I do agree with you that being an educator and a parent is hard work. Sometimes I wish I wasn't in education because I can see different ways that things could be done and this can frustrate me. However, my children all have appreciated their teachers (and so have I).

But yes, stereotypes are definitely out there, and I also find myself holding onto some of them too - with no intention to do so. This post is a really good reminder to be aware of them and to challenge our thinking.

Thanks for sharing.

Comment by Hazel Owen on April 8, 2013 at 17:41

Monika - this is powerful stuff! (And I had a good guffaw at the "what clipart do you want to be represented by"!) As an educator with no children I haven't witnessed first hand the expectation that my kids would paragons of academe. I do know, however, that I find it really tricky to 'teach' members of my family - there are so many overlapping, often contradictory expectations and roles. I remember when I was working toward my horse-riding instructor qualification my sister asked me to give her a lesson. Well - after about 15 minutes of ever-growing tension it turned into a general screaming match and we both stalked off. I think I've learned a lot of skills about communication since then, but it is interesting that I feel the dynamic is still different. So - to come to your questions about the children of teachers and some of the inherent expectations, there is possibly another dimension about how we interact and communicate with people who are really close to us that undermines the 'ideal' rosy-glassed image of the perfect student whose parent(s) are teacher(s)!!

Stereotypes are, I feel, insidious, and are often underpinned by sweeping generalisations and cliches. Karen Melhuish Spencer shared this powerful, inspirational spoken poem that highlights the stereotyping and barriers that female Pasific Islanders face in New Zealand. It emphasises "the importance of listening from belief to anecdotal report, remaining diligently aware of our innate tendency toward confirmation bias" [my emphasis] as Madelyn Griffith-Haynie writes in her post The tragedy of certainty.

It's a complex dynamic with many layers! Thanks, as always, for your insightful discussion and questions :-)


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