families are complicated

About family trees: isn’t it exactly the fact that people’s families are so different that makes such a project interesting in the first place? This might depend on the teacher - but if a teacher introduced the assignment by briefly talking about different kinds of families and gave specific suggestions about how people could draw in two sets of parents, deceased relatives etc., would you feel differently about this?
realsocialskills:
I think it would still be a really bad idea and that the reasons I described in my original post still apply.
No matter how a teacher frames this, it’s a really sensitive subject.
It’s great if teachers are sending the message that there are a lot of different kinds of families. They should send that message, and one way to do that is to assign books that show lots of different kinds of families and cultures.
It’s not good to use students as object lessons, though. Particularly if they’re dealing with something painful or socially stigmatized. 
For instance:
  • A kid who’s been in foster care since they were three and doesn’t know who their parents are shouldn’t have to decide between lying and announcing that to their whole class.
  • A kid whose mother just died might not want to talk about that.
  • A kid who has two fathers might be afraid to tell other students that, particularly if many of them are members of a faith that stigmatizes homosexuality
  • A kid who doesn’t have ready words to describe their family situation might not feel comfortable discussing this with you. They shouldn’t have to choose between lying and having a scary conversation about something personal.

A school project not to assign

reinventweather:

seatentsina:

realsocialskills:

If you are a teacher, do not ask your students to make a family tree as a school assignment. *Especially* do not do this as a class art project to be posted on the wall.

A lot of kids have very complicated families, and complicated feelings about which words to use for which people.

For instance: Some kids call multiple people “mom”. Sometimes this is because they’re being raised by a lesbian couple. Sometimes this is because they are adopted and also maintaining a relationship with their mother who gave birth to them. Sometimes this is because their parents divorced and remarried and they also see their stepparents as parents. None of these relationships map easily onto a family tree project.

Some kids don’t have any parents at all. This isn’t something that they should have to tell their peers if they don’t want to. 

Some kids aren’t sure who their parents are. Is it the people who adopted them when they were a baby and disrupted when they were six? The person who gave birth to them? The people they’re living with now? The one nice staff in their group home? The person they’re in foster care with who they’re hoping will eventually adopt them? It’s complicated and not ok to ask kids to declare this in writing in front of everyone.

There are any number of emotionally fraught and complicated situations that go along with describing families. It’s not good to have kids do that as part of an assignment, unless you’re working in a context in which getting people to do emotionally fraught things is appropriate.

seatentsina said:

lol I remember having to do a project like this for Hebrew School, idek remember why. but it was super awkward and uncomfortable and embarrassing to come in with a lopsided, half-blank tree. 

reinventweather said:

my friend (who teaches the sixth grade) just had the ‘bring a parent to school’ day EXCEPT it was ‘bring your vip to school’ and it was parents and siblings and aunts and neighbors and pastors and EVERYONE.

what a great idea.

ahirumama:

Merf. Thinking is Hard.: A school project not to assign

casanova-frankensteins-monster:

eshusplayground:

realsocialskills:

If you are a teacher, do not ask your students to make a family tree as a school assignment. *Especially* do not do this as a class art project to be posted on the wall.

A lot of kids have very complicated families, and complicated feelings about which words to use for which people.

For instance: Some kids call multiple people “mom”. Sometimes this is because they’re being raised by a lesbian couple. Sometimes this is because they are adopted and also maintaining a relationship with their mother who gave birth to them. Sometimes this is because their parents divorced and remarried and they also see their stepparents as parents. None of these relationships map easily onto a family tree project.

Some kids don’t have any parents at all. This isn’t something that they should have to tell their peers if they don’t want to. 

Some kids aren’t sure who their parents are. Is it the people who adopted them when they were a baby and disrupted when they were six? The person who gave birth to them? The people they’re living with now? The one nice staff in their group home? The person they’re in foster care with who they’re hoping will eventually adopt them? It’s complicated and not ok to ask kids to declare this in writing in front of everyone.

There are any number of emotionally fraught and complicated situations that go along with describing families. It’s not good to have kids do that as part of an assignment, unless you’re working in a context in which getting people to do emotionally fraught things is appropriate.

eshusplayground said:

Not to mention, some kids have a family history that’s been damn near erased due to enslavement and/or genocide.

casanova-frankensteins-monster said:

we had to do a family tree project in the 6th grade

i put a lot of time and effort into my project and was very proud of it

but when i turned it in to class at the end of the year, there were literally (white) kids with BINDERS (not 1 binder, multiple) full of material tracing their routes back to like the exact latitudes and longitudes in Europe that their families came from

my family tree project was the size of one notebook and only went back about 4 or 5 generations, and a lot of the information we had was by word of mouth and not, you know, actual documentation

ahirumama said:

yeah teaching English as a foreign language, I was worried about how to do this and found a cool idea of teaching the kids the words and then having them make their own families from whatever they wanted.  So they could have characters and what not or use their real families if they wanted but none them were obligated.  Most ended up with tons of characters or weird creatures and it worked pretty well.  The time one of my head teachers made them use their real families, we did have a breakdown in the class. 

tavablake:

realsocialskills:

mistakeshavebeenmade:

Merf. Thinking is Hard.: A school project not to assign

eshusplayground:

realsocialskills:

If you are a teacher, do not ask your students to make a family tree as a school assignment. *Especially* do not do this as a class art project to be posted on the wall.

A lot of kids have very complicated families, and complicated feelings about which words to use for which people.

For instance: Some kids call multiple people “mom”. Sometimes this is because they’re being raised by a lesbian couple. Sometimes this is because they are adopted and also maintaining a relationship with their mother who gave birth to them. Sometimes this is because their parents divorced and remarried and they also see their stepparents as parents. None of these relationships map easily onto a family tree project.

Some kids don’t have any parents at all. This isn’t something that they should have to tell their peers if they don’t want to. 

Some kids aren’t sure who their parents are. Is it the people who adopted them when they were a baby and disrupted when they were six? The person who gave birth to them? The people they’re living with now? The one nice staff in their group home? The person they’re in foster care with who they’re hoping will eventually adopt them? It’s complicated and not ok to ask kids to declare this in writing in front of everyone.

There are any number of emotionally fraught and complicated situations that go along with describing families. It’s not good to have kids do that as part of an assignment, unless you’re working in a context in which getting people to do emotionally fraught things is appropriate.

eshusplayground said:

Not to mention, some kids have a family history that’s been damn near erased due to enslavement and/or genocide.

mistakeshavebeenmade said:

Reblogging because this is a thing that I wind up having to deal with a lot as a Spanish tutor. I’m not sure what the alternative is for teachers to use while teaching names for family members, because that is an important thing to learn, but there needs to be one. And don’t, for pity’s sake, just teach the words for the traditional nuclear family. I don’t enjoy doing your job for you.

realsocialskills said:

I don’t have a good answer to this. Except that maybe using dolls or doing skits would be better than making family trees?

Does anyone have a better answer?

tavablake said

Why not make a family tree for a fictional or historical family? Particularly for language classes, you could use a family significant to the country’s own politics or culture.

realsocialskills said:

Have any of y'all done this successfully?

warcrimenancydrew:

Merf. Thinking is Hard.: A school project not to assign

eshusplayground:

realsocialskills:

If you are a teacher, do not ask your students to make a family tree as a school assignment. *Especially* do not do this as a class art project to be posted on the wall.

A lot of kids have very complicated families, and complicated feelings about which words to use for which people.

For instance: Some kids call multiple people “mom”. Sometimes this is because they’re being raised by a lesbian couple. Sometimes this is because they are adopted and also maintaining a relationship with their mother who gave birth to them. Sometimes this is because their parents divorced and remarried and they also see their stepparents as parents. None of these relationships map easily onto a family tree project.

Some kids don’t have any parents at all. This isn’t something that they should have to tell their peers if they don’t want to. 

Some kids aren’t sure who their parents are. Is it the people who adopted them when they were a baby and disrupted when they were six? The person who gave birth to them? The people they’re living with now? The one nice staff in their group home? The person they’re in foster care with who they’re hoping will eventually adopt them? It’s complicated and not ok to ask kids to declare this in writing in front of everyone.

There are any number of emotionally fraught and complicated situations that go along with describing families. It’s not good to have kids do that as part of an assignment, unless you’re working in a context in which getting people to do emotionally fraught things is appropriate.

eshusplayground said:

Not to mention, some kids have a family history that’s been damn near erased due to enslavement and/or genocide.

warcrimenancydrew said:

and some kids come from cultures where everyone doesn’t keep long detailed family records. the last generation my parents know anything about is their grandparents (and even then, it’s minimal info), it’s pretty much silent from that point back.

mistakeshavebeenmade:

Merf. Thinking is Hard.: A school project not to assign

eshusplayground:

realsocialskills:

If you are a teacher, do not ask your students to make a family tree as a school assignment. *Especially* do not do this as a class art project to be posted on the wall.

A lot of kids have very complicated families, and complicated feelings about which words to use for which people.

For instance: Some kids call multiple people “mom”. Sometimes this is because they’re being raised by a lesbian couple. Sometimes this is because they are adopted and also maintaining a relationship with their mother who gave birth to them. Sometimes this is because their parents divorced and remarried and they also see their stepparents as parents. None of these relationships map easily onto a family tree project.

Some kids don’t have any parents at all. This isn’t something that they should have to tell their peers if they don’t want to. 

Some kids aren’t sure who their parents are. Is it the people who adopted them when they were a baby and disrupted when they were six? The person who gave birth to them? The people they’re living with now? The one nice staff in their group home? The person they’re in foster care with who they’re hoping will eventually adopt them? It’s complicated and not ok to ask kids to declare this in writing in front of everyone.

There are any number of emotionally fraught and complicated situations that go along with describing families. It’s not good to have kids do that as part of an assignment, unless you’re working in a context in which getting people to do emotionally fraught things is appropriate.

eshusplayground said:

Not to mention, some kids have a family history that’s been damn near erased due to enslavement and/or genocide.

mistakeshavebeenmade said:

Reblogging because this is a thing that I wind up having to deal with a lot as a Spanish tutor. I’m not sure what the alternative is for teachers to use while teaching names for family members, because that is an important thing to learn, but there needs to be one. And don’t, for pity’s sake, just teach the words for the traditional nuclear family. I don’t enjoy doing your job for you.

realsocialskills said:

I don’t have a good answer to this. Except that maybe using dolls or doing skits would be better than making family trees?

Does anyone have a better answer?