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One of my students made a huge sweeping statement about single parents today, and I challenged her on it. Am I too touchy?

(22 Posts)
notevenamousie Wed 21-Oct-09 20:21:58

At the end of a two hour, very intense but good seminar type thing with a group of my undergrads (I teach mainly UG students at a university), one of my students made a massive sweeping statement about single parents being "worse" and "causing problems".

I challenged her almost straight away on these assumptions. She, and the rest of the group, didn't say much, though I could tell they were listening (as sometimes they don't).

I just felt like, if I don't challenge assumptions with these 18-21ish year olds, when will they get their prejudices challenged. But now I am wondering if I am too defensive and should let things be a little more.

Any thoughts or experiences?

AMumInScotland Wed 21-Oct-09 20:30:44

If you don't challenge them, then who will? Students can be pretty ignorant of the world (not all of them obviously!), and I'd say it's part of your responsibility as an educator to challenge them when they talk nonsense.

Biobytes Wed 21-Oct-09 20:34:28

Thank you.

To hear somebody is tackling the problem it's actually good news.

mamas12 Wed 21-Oct-09 21:22:21

Aren't you difinition there to challenge them and make them think thereby educating them?

Good on you.

purpleduck Wed 21-Oct-09 21:39:21

They are undergrads - they should expect it grin

Haunty27 Wed 21-Oct-09 22:17:27

Hi Noteven - educate educate educate.

I'm a single parent, certainly not by choice. I had to buy my exh out of the house when he went off with a floozy and can barely afford the mortgage, its a struggle I work full time, love my children and boy I am so proud of them. Exh doesn't contribute.

We never know what lies round the corner do we?

Good on you.

You should take it deeper with them.
Single parents get such negative 'press'. Teach 'em about the tragedies that might befall them us good 'uns lol. and not to be so judgementalsmile

benjysmum Wed 21-Oct-09 22:41:00

that's the problem, single mums get a lot of negative press and in my view, our politicians don't help much, constantly going on as if they are solely a burden on society. Good on you for challenging the sterotypical view. more lecturers should encourage their students to think critically about topics instead of just echoing rubbish.

elastamum Wed 21-Oct-09 22:41:15

Good on you.

more people need to challenge the single parent stereotype. Your students probably have a rose coloured view of the world from being fed nonsense by the media.

Even my son asked me the other day if I got money from the government to keep them! Despite them living in a big house and going to private school?? I had to explain that although I had to work long hours to keep every one that I earned far too much to need government support. I do wonder where he got that idea from but I expect it comes from him seeing the media stereotype of a single parent and the fact that as far as I know we are the only one parent family in his school class

TrillianSlasher Wed 21-Oct-09 22:43:54

Not too touchy at all - it's good to have your assumptions challenged as a student, especially when you're young and you don't even realise that you've been making assumptions.

iheartdusty Wed 21-Oct-09 23:01:10

OP, I think you were right from every angle.

As well as the general assumptions she was making, what about the other students in the room who may have been raised by a single parent or may even be single parents themselves (I guess you would know that, though)? How were they feeling?

(btw I don't often lurk on the lone parents threads, so have no idea whether you are parenting alone yourself)

Haunty27 Wed 21-Oct-09 23:58:02

Elastamum, mine asked me if I get help too. I don't. When I told them I don't they looked proud. But if I did get help I'd be ever so grateful. (They are in the best state secondary schools that I could get and doing very well). On the cusp of poverty here, but then I suppose the answer is, sell the family home and move somewhere else. But I digress.

Chin up all single parents. Tell Educate 'em Even. smile and keep up the good work. You are after all, probably only going to prepare them for what might lie ahead.

mrsmhaAARRrrket Thu 22-Oct-09 11:07:12

thank you so much smile
on the face of things i suppose i would like like the stereotypical sp. singel mom, on benefits etc.

i am single by choice. i felt that it would be much better situation for both me and my dd to be happier than to be in situation where her dad was constantly trying to argue with me, he couldn't be trusted and was willing to pay any money on himself but not on dd, me, or the flat we lived in at the time.

please, please, please, keep on challenging their assumptions and not to judge every situation as being the same when it might very well not be.

Miggsie Thu 22-Oct-09 11:10:36

Well, she'd have had problems at my old seminar group...2 of the students were single mums. They would probably have eaten her!

Always challenge assertions from people who have little knowledge or factual base for their assertions.

A lot of single parents are not there through choice.

sarah293 Thu 22-Oct-09 11:11:41

Message withdrawn

mrsmhaAARRrrket Thu 22-Oct-09 11:36:22

look like blush

sincitylover Thu 22-Oct-09 11:45:22

Hi Mousie (waves) no not too touchy at all. You would be expected to challenge any sweeping generalisations imo

(I also work in a uni but on mgt side not academic)

citronella Thu 22-Oct-09 11:48:13

Good for you!
I am now a lone parent by choice because the long term alternative was too dark to contemplate. I get no help from the state or from XH, work full time and pay higher rate tax thereby putting more back into to the system than I am taking out . So these judgemental people should be thanking me not berating me.

You are in the best place to challenge these stereotypes!

hanaflower Thu 22-Oct-09 11:49:08

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

seekinginspiration Thu 22-Oct-09 11:58:36

Absolutely right to challenge; I'm the child of a single parent. My dad flipped and went when I was 6; my mum had an education and went back to work full time. She is the most amazing person, she almost never said bad things about him and me and my siblings become a team against the world. I did miss out on opportunities and it does mean I am very cautious and will not take many risks; I went out to work as soon as possible - so no degree here. But on the positive side I'm far more street-wise and way less judgmental than my own teenagers.

seekinginspiration Thu 22-Oct-09 12:07:41

I need to go and do jobs now, but I would like you to ask your students some questions. Where do they get their information on single parents from? Is it from real people who they know are behaving badly and ' causing problems'? Is it from the newspapers? Did they watch Panorama last week with the racist children and teenagers? The program implied the estate had an exceptionally high percentage of children brought up without male role models. From my experience uni students don't watch telly. On a professional level it would be interesting for you to find out how they have formed their views.

notevenamousie Thu 22-Oct-09 19:45:00

Thank you everyone for your support. I was a bit worried about it becoming my 'hobby horse' and everyone tuning out. (Am single parent to dd aged nearly 3 for 18months or so, ex is difficult to say the least, but dd is fab!) I have hundreds of students and might not see this lot again - not ideal for education but there you go. Probably ideal for challenging their stereotypes though. I have been really touched by responses to this, thank you.

ninah Thu 22-Oct-09 19:49:19

just seen this mousie and you def did the right thing, I hope I would have done this even before becoming lone p but it takes being in the situation to really appreciate the struggles and to feel affected by the bad press - well done, and thanks smile

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