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



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?