Thursday, December 22, 2011

Teachers Asking for Parent Volunteers - Dads or Moms or both?

Teachers are encouraged to involve parents in the school community as much as possible. Field trips and special occassions are often where parents come in really handy.  Sometimes, teachers ask for specific parents, Dads or Moms, and can stir up quite a bit of controversy.  They might be very well meaning, but the idea that only male volunteers can do certain things, or that only female volunteers can assist is antiquated and certainly not common amongst our schools in London anyway.

So I was surprised to find this blog post making the rounds on facebook & twitter yesterday, called "The Penis Mom."  It's a post about a mom who responds when the teachers at her children's school ask for Dads to volunteer at the "pumpkin chunkin" in which kids launch pumpkins with a trebuchet (all in the name of physics of course). 

This mom was angry that the school only asked for Dads and responded with this email to all the parents & teachers who received the query:
Dear teachers and parents,

Are you guys seriously only asking for Dads?
Is lifting done with a penis?
Thoughtfully yours,
Karen
The principal of the school responded with an email to remind everyone to keep the emails "disney rated" and since the author of the email shared the same first name as the principal she clarified that it wasn't her that sent the message, and that she's not actually a fan of lifting things or mud.  

This situation raises a number of great questions for teachers today:
  1. Does gender matter when asking for parent volunteers? 
  2. When is it okay to ask for men over women or vice versa? Or is it ever okay?
  3. What would you do if you were a teacher in this school and saw this email come through from one of the parents? 
Personally, I think the only time gender matters is in teaching Sex Education.  Otherwise, I'd always keep my requests gender-neutral, especially knowing that many students are now raised by extended members of their family or have same-sex parents.  It seems ridiculous to exclude anyone. But that's just me.  I know what I think.  I'm curious about what you think.  Please share your thoughts below!

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1 comment:

  1. I agree that it's ridiculous to specifically request only mums or dads. I couldn't believe it a few weeks back when there was a fundraiser at my school for the church (it's a Catholic school), and the priest told the children that some of their mums were helping by baking and their dads were helping by moving things. I don't know if they'd requested volunteers along gender lines, but I have heard this priest won't allow girls to serve at the altar, so possibly.

    It's one thing if only mums or dads wind up signing up for a given role... something else entirely to prohibit or discourage co-ed participation. And what about those with non-traditional gender identification?

    ReplyDelete

Thanks for sharing your two pence!

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