Thursday, November 10, 2011

An Open Letter to Parents

Dear parents:

Your children are generally pretty awesome; we teachers like being around your kids. But I have a few things I'd like you to know when you're raising them and sending them to school.

First, please think through what you're actually going to name your kid. I know that not everyone comes from a Christian tradition and that there are many beautiful names from which you can choose. Choosing a name from the Bible may be anathema to you, and you certainly don't have to use that as a baby name guide. But consider the consequences of how your child's name will affect her as she grows up.

Today I realized that I am teaching a Madesen, a Maddison, a Madisyn, two Madisons, a Jaxon, a Jaxsen, and two Austins, all of whom are in 7th grade. (I'm sure there are more, but I'm only working with a small portion of one grade. Last year I had several Mackenzies, Baylies, and many variations thereof.)

Please do not name your child after a geographic location or what is a last name. Trendy names are marginally cute when your kid is small, but that "unique" name you choose is no longer unique if everyone is choosing a derivative thereof.

Second, please don't continually pull your kid out of school to take them on family vacations or to travel. I absolutely agree that travel is one of the best sources of education; however, when you pull your child out of school several times a year for prolonged periods of time, what you're teaching your child is that education is not important; that school is not a job; and that obligations do not have to be met before the vacation can be had. Furthermore, your child is missing important skills that, as her education continues, she will need to learn. We're not teaching your kid this stuff for the hell of it; we tend to think that your kid may actually need to know this stuff at some point in her life.

Most people have jobs that allow them some flexibility in terms of when they can take vacations; teachers, of course, do not, and I'm sure there are other professions as well that make it difficult to take a vacation whenever one pleases. However, until your child graduates from high school, make school your priority.

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