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To not want to get too involved with school life?

(434 Posts)
Pinkrosesarebest Tue 10-Jun-14 19:28:58

Just that really. My twin sons are in Reception. So we are only at the beginning of our school journey really. I will help out in the future I am sure but haven't so far. I always send in money when asked. However 2 mums talked very loudly near to me and quite pointedly today and said it's always the same ones helping out, signing up or organising PTA events. Surely it is a choice rather than an obligation?

UsedtobeFeckless Sat 14-Jun-14 22:09:57

I think we may be eighteen pages into the sequel! grin

KERALA1 Sat 14-Jun-14 22:02:15

I think someone has written a book about this called "I don't know why she bothers" not read it but great title!

UsedtobeFeckless Sat 14-Jun-14 21:55:41


Join / don't join. Please yourselves. I've never actually met anyone in real life who was particularly bothered one way or the other!

JassyRadlett Sat 14-Jun-14 21:24:02

Oops, itchy trigger finger.

The lack of self-awareness and willingness to self-analyse by some on this thread is quite striking. You are having trouble recruiting volunteers? The problem must of course be the calibre of potential volunteers, and could in no way he how the PTA is perceived externally. Of course not, because from the inside it's lovely.

FunLovinBunster Sat 14-Jun-14 21:22:57

Thank you so much for your critique, beeblanket.

JassyRadlett Sat 14-Jun-14 21:22:31

thanks to BeeBlanket, exactly what I wanted to say but clearer than I could have managed.

The lack of self-awareness and willingness to self-analyse by some on this thread is quite striking. You are having trouble recruiting v

BeeBlanket Sat 14-Jun-14 21:01:23

Okaaaaay funlovin. You have just put yourself firmly in the category of "PTA type" I would run a mile to avoid and who would put me right off getting involved. Which is the whole point of this thread. And yet it seems like you really can't see it.

Pontificating that what you do is for the sake of the children and so rewarding, is actually quite aggressive. You are defending your activities by deliberately implying anyone who doesn't do them doesn't really care about their children. Nasty.

Getting sneery and accusatory about it being "bitchy" (x 4) to not like the PTA. I guess that covers having any doubts about at all, or not liking the pushy, sexist attitude that many of us experience from our PTAs. No no, unless we are assimilated drones, devoting our lives to the PTA, we are suspect and need to get a life (ironic!).

Are working parents speshul (sic) and different?!

I think the bitchiness is coming from you here. And that comment also carries a very nasty taste of derogation too.

Actually though yes, what is special and different about working parents, if you choose those terms, is that they have less free time. Sometimes a lot less free time than you could possibly imagine. And as allhailqueenmab has said so clearly, so do not know the ins and outs of everyone's life and it's not for you to decide if how they spend their precious time is acceptable.

MrsShortfuse2 Sat 14-Jun-14 20:27:34

Well said Chocoluvva.

I do very little towards the PTA at my dc's middle-class school, because I am too busy using my skills being a governor at a deprived inner city school in special measures and trying to appoint a headteacher.

UsedtobeFeckless Sat 14-Jun-14 20:15:28

If I'm honest the generalising peeves me, though ... It's fine to not fancy joining a particular PTA group because it's full of snidey loons but don't extend that and argue that all PTAs are equally nasty and self-serving, because we're not.

FunLovinBunster Sat 14-Jun-14 19:05:21

Thanks chocluvva...
We are the laziest least alpha parents going. DD plays tennis and goes to Brownies and that's it. Nothing at the weekends. Nothing on 4 out of 5 weekdays. We'd rather she was a child than push her into stage school, gymnastics ponies or any of the other clubs that her mates go to.

KERALA1 Sat 14-Jun-14 17:05:55

Think there is sexism in all this though. There are women that do shed loads of drudge PTA type work at school. Dh and a few dads put up some Christmas decs only thing they did all year took about an hour. They were personally thanked by name in the heads main bit in the newsletter and generally fluttered over. I was hmm I must say

chocoluvva Sat 14-Jun-14 15:14:36

That's very impressive FunLovin.

We volunteer because we want the best for our children. I don't see how anyone could possibly say that is not a commendable wish for our children.

But you would do well to remember that different parents, who are equally loving might have different priorities for their children. Not everyone thinks that time and effort spent fundraising for school equipment is the best use of their time. Some people are happy with 'adequate' and prefer to put their energy into other aspects of their children's upbringing. For example, they might be very involved with their church or might want to develop their children's ability to spend their free time constructively without rushing around to lots of structured activities.

I genuinely don't mean this unkindly, but having the best of everything doesn't necessarily create happy or well-rounded adults. Though you must be sending a really powerful message to your children that they are worth a lot of effort and that must be good for their confidence and sense of security.

And there definitely are lazy parents obviously, who pretend they don't agree with the idea of PTA's just to cover their laziness. grin What message will their children get from them...? hmm

Sometimes it's just a question of balance.

(I got a phone call in the middle of typing this so apologies if I have x-posted)

JustGrrrrrreat Sat 14-Jun-14 15:05:08

The point about the particular sahp in our school is that they have few outside committments that would prevent them. I realise some people do have things that prevent them doing stuff.

I also understand that some people dont want to do stuff.

I feel this situation is very much like voting. If you have the chance to vote and didnt, dont moan about who the peope who did vote chose.

JustGrrrrrreat Sat 14-Jun-14 14:53:34

Actually. I am a full time working parent and i use my leave how i can to help out. My dm is also on the pta to help out. I was pointing out that at our school the people with the loudest voices at the school gate, about how pta money is spent and the activities aranged to raise funds, do have the time to attend meetings to make those decisions but choose not to.

I dont think that is ok. If you want your say, go have it when it can make a difference.

FunLovinBunster Sat 14-Jun-14 14:00:04

Why should it just be down to SAHM&D to help out! Are working parents speshul (sic) and different?!

JustGrrrrrreat Sat 14-Jun-14 13:44:01

The pta at our school is basically a handful of women who do all the crap bits. I.e organise a xmas fair, wrap the presents rally the local shops to donate stuff.

The thing that gets me are the numbers of sahp who moan CONSTANTLY but havr no intention of helping or doing anything that might actually change something or assist!

If you are not one of the above that is ok. It is fine not to get involved. Not everyone wants to or can.

FunLovinBunster Sat 14-Jun-14 13:18:30

Some of these posts are beyond ridiculous.
I am an active member of our PTA.
In the past 6 years, we've donated 2 minibuses, play equipment that cost the best part of £30k to the KS1 and KS2 playgrounds, pianos, rejigged the 6th form building in senior school, redone and equipped senior school pavilion, PA equipment, stage lighting, and so on.
DD is at an independent school. Parents work with the staff to provide extras that give our girls a chance to have a go at different things. We volunteer because we want the best for our children. Yes it's time consuming, but it's really rewarding to see the donations turned in to items that the girls want or need.
If you are anti PTA i do hope you have the good grace to tell your child and teacher that you will not be using the equipment that someone else has been kind enough to spend time raising the money to pay for it, while you bitch and moan on the sidelines.
In fact it's a bit rich reading the bitchy comments about PTA people. The only people I can see who are bitchy is people like you that are too too busy to help, yet have enough time to come on MN and bitch yourselves stupid about people who are actually trying to do something positive to help our children.
I wouldn't want help frompeople like you anyway. Go away. Get a life.

UsedtobeFeckless Sat 14-Jun-14 08:43:36

It just boils down to respecting people's choices - if you have five members then organise things you can run with five helpers, don't set up something that needs twenty and bitch becuase no-one else helps ... If they wanted to be involved they'd have signed up already!

Trouble is that the world is full of I'm-doing-this-so-you-should-too types ...

So OP, don't be guilt-tripped, remember the old MN mantra ... " Do fuck off you passive-agressive harpy " is a complete sentance! grin

BoffinMum Sat 14-Jun-14 07:44:02

Allhail, have you thought of doing a PhD on the topic of women, schooling and time? PM me if interested. <serious>

Stripytop Sat 14-Jun-14 07:33:45

Thanks allhail. That was a good post and believe it or not I do understand your points now they are written in clear English and I also agree with most of what you say.

But there are always demands on our money and time, the issue is not saying no, but how to say it. I've struggled with this until very recently. Saying yes to everything. I'm now very selective about what I say yes to. It's really hard actually, but I'm getting there. I'm getting better at politely saying no without justifying it or feeling guilty.

There are three types of 'school life' described on this thread:

The first is ensuring your child is 'school ready'. Has had breakfast, a good nights sleep, done their homework, is clean, properly equipped and ready to learn. We're all doing that to the best of our abilities, surely. That's not what the op was about.

The second is helping out with curriculum based activities: school trips,reading, walking to and from events, prize giving etc. There's no fundraising going on here; these are not PTA led.

And thirdly the fundraising activities. The PTA or whatever. I think this is what the op is about.

The women described in the op were nasty, and not worth the time of day. pinkroses you are already helping out by sending in money and with reception twins I imagine your hands are fairly full so you have nothing to feel bad/guilty about.

Waltonswatcher1 Sat 14-Jun-14 07:14:47

Gee .
I am not on a PTA , but happily support it .
Said in one sentence with one paragraph ...

UsedtobeFeckless Sat 14-Jun-14 00:44:46

I'm amazed how bothered people get about this stuff on here ... Help if you want to - don't if you don't! Simples.

I'm on the PTA. I'm several light years away from being any kind of bee-related-alpha-mum-type-smuggo. We live in the back-end of beyond and if I have to drive DS2 to a school shindig I might as well hang around and sell cups of tea because by the time I've got home it'll be time to come back and pick him up again. When he goes up to secondary school next term I'll quit. We've had a good laugh though, so I'm not sorry I got roped in.

Just to clear it up ... PTA types are always at the back near the door at plays so we can leg it out to set up the teas for the interval. We do nick all the nice biscuits, though.

BreconBeBuggered Fri 13-Jun-14 23:39:57

I do not expect many of you to understand the last 3 points

Why are you engaging with such a bunch of dunderheads then, I wonder?

LyingWitchInTheWardrobe Fri 13-Jun-14 23:31:07

Chocaluvva's post says it all for me, it's an articulate and thoughtful 'nail on the head'.

I think this thread is a horrid indictment of PTA, from both 'sides' and it would put me off. There's absolutely no meeting of minds and it's bizarre considering that we're supposed to be parents here, supportive of others also trying to do their best. What exactly is this slanging match achieving?

allhailqueenmab Fri 13-Jun-14 23:16:17

I haven't meant to insult anyone. Honestly, apologies if I have.

I know this thread has moved on now so I am going to say really simply

- I don't object to PTA type activities, or the people who do them, per se (but more on this later).

- I do object to anyone (whether they are doing PTA things themselves, or not, but it is usually those who are I think) who imply that those who don't do those things, should. Many on this thread have said "Oh we don't mean you, but lots of people don't get involved but could and they jolly well should". I don't think anyone ever has the right to make that judgement. this is the one point that no one is getting. you don't get to decide what is a worthwhile use of anyone else's time

- going about hassling people for their time is something that primarily happens to women and the way it tends to be enforced is deeply sexist

- I have doubts about the absolute value of these things beyond the enjoyment of those who voluntarily take part - and it is not childish or silly to have these doubts, when asked for my time, it is only like asking "what for?" when asked to write a cheque. Given that a lot of people who do do these things are saying, on this thread, they don't enjoy them, then I have doubts about their value, full stop.

- Even if we do accept that this sort of activity is ultimately a Good Thing, there are significant barriers to entry; even identifying these is perceived as the sort of criticism that marks you out as a Bad Lot on this thread. however, this is a thing, read about it, it is a Thing and there are things you can do about it

- Finally, I do have misgivings about the privitisation of responsibility in this way. I also actually have come to the conclusion that the relative inefficiency of these events is actually sort of wired into them, because it is about a sort of political elevation of work for its own sake. There is a sense that we don't deserve anything, even education for our children, unless we have worked for it as individuals, ridiculously hard, even if our labour has actually added little of value; it is about seeing ourselves as people who should be grateful; people who shouldn't have time to do anything but work. It is sort of related to the kind of glee that some people have about austerity, a kind of embracing of punishment, especially for other people, and kind of superstitious insurance, an idea that you can put yourself in the winning camp (and by george, there will be losers) by working, working, working.
we do still have tax-funded state schools but I see this sort of activity as connected to a sort of tory endgame of everything being run by unregulated committees and volunteers, some richer and more successful than others, and the devil take the hindmost. And if / when that happens then like everyone else I will have to put the work in or let children go untaught; but I do not gleefully embrace the thin end of this horrible wedge.

- also what about our own educations? As adults many of us work (paid or not) in repetitive and demanding and unsatisfying environments. Our own continuing education, if it is to take place at all, will take place in our leisure time. This sort of pressure on leisure time and, by extension education, for adults, is part of the notion of education as training, a utilitarian sausage factory that turns children into workers and has no other relevance and no relevance for adults. I resist this notion of what education is and thus I guard my own leisure for me, and for its own sake, and partly in the service of helping me be the fullest person and thus greatest parent I can be.

- not everything is about business. Making everything businessy is a direct and deliberate assault on the survival of other values. Taking this mindset directly into schools and implying that parents of school age children must live by these values or be unfit, is a direct assault on even a potential future for other values, by poisoning the well in the next generation

I do not expect many of you to understand the last 3 points but none of this (and very little of what I have posted so far) contains insults or big words. If you want to read it and understand it you will

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