In Defense of the Duggars

I’ve made up my mind. There are two kinds of people on social media: those who like the over-sized Duggar family and those who roll their eyes at the mention of that now-household name. Well, technically there’s the third category called “Who in the h**** cares?” but their voice doesn’t count right now. Mostly because they already scrolled past this post, muttering “Who the h**** cares?!?!?” under their breath in a frustrated sigh. My husband just joined the ranks of the latter two clubs. He doesn’t care, but he undoubtedly rolled his eyes because as the official “Man Who Shares my Bed and Watches a Ridiculous Amount of Sportscenter on my TV,” he is obligated to read my posts. It was in the contract somewhere just before “I do.”

I unabashedly go on record for supporting Jim Bob and Michelle and the rest of their thousand or so kids. (No, really, someone do the math here. I’m a reading teacher; numbers aren’t really my forte. But I wonder… Exactly how many Duggars are we talking here if all 19 children have 19 children of their own, and then all those grandchildren continue the trend? No wonder you’re annoyed by them. You’re afraid they’re headed for world domination. Well, at least thrift stores will remain a staple in my humble future then. Where there’s a will, there’s a way.)

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My personal religious and political views aside, here are the reasons I enjoy following the family behind TLC’s 19 Kids and Counting…

In Parenting

1. They direct-teach character traits to their children. 

Since Michelle home-schools her kids, she is better equipped– no, strike that– more organized in intentionally teaching her littles positive character traits. For instance, I’ve heard her speak on the show about teaching patience and servanthood through planned lessons, led by a frank discussion and an opportunity to practice. Well, sure, that’s one approach. Probably more fruitful than my own wait-and-see approach. Wait until the 6-year-old turns around in the car to look at his older brother again. See my firstborn LOSE HIS MIND because “he looked at me!” And then after we’ve all had a turn losing it, me because the littles just lost it over NOTHING, I try to explain the need for patience with others and for caring about how our actions affect other people. I’m sure that’s effective too.

2. They keep a chore chart– and actually enforce it. 

I have a dream… Oh, nevermind. I do not. I don’t even dream it.

3. They have made teaching the value of a dollar and how to manage money a priority. 

Can you hear one of the older girls like Jill or Jessa saying, “Buy used and save the difference”?

4. They encourage their children to learn practical skills.

Maybe it’s the farm they live on. Maybe it’s because they’re from Arkansas. Maybe it’s out of necessity for child labor; I’m not even sure it matters. But I have noticed how the Duggar children are perfectly capable of things I can only hope my own kids will be able to do someday, mostly because I’ll have to find someone who can actually teach them. Even from an early age, those kids are learning how to ride a lawn mower, drive a tractor and other work equipment, do laundry, cook, clean the house (How many square feet did you say? I have a family friend who once leased a 500 square foot apartment in New York– and shared it with two roommates). I love that Jim Bob and Michelle allow the kids ample opportunity to practice too. I remember Michelle once admitting that sure, it would be easier and quicker to do a lot of the chores herself, but she chose to let the little ones help anyway because they needed to learn. And she was flexible, knowing they wouldn’t do it as well as she would. It’s hard to keep that Mom-OCD at bay!

5. I find their seemingly old-fashioned ideals refreshing.

Call it the counter-culture effect, but I enjoy a short respite from The House of Cards, Bruce Jenner’s gender transformation, or Thrive devotional videos on Facebook.

In Marriage

6. Jim Bob kisses Michelle ALL THE TIME.

ON THE LIPS.

In public.

My husband did that once too. Then the preacher announced, “It is my pleasure to introduce to you: Mr. and Mrs. Blalock.”

7. They’re always running late.

And miraculously it doesn’t lead to a yelling match in the front pasture as they head out to the caravan of SUVs they’ll need to transport everyone. Even if it is because Jim Bob is still upstairs applying another layer of hair spray.

I like it because they take it in stride.

8. They share their religious views without shaming others and handle opposition with grace. 

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5 Teacher Stereotypes: Are you one of these?

Can you identify yourself or any of your colleagues?

1. The “Cool” Teacher

This teacher is easy to spot. He’s stylishly dressed, and he’s the one getting fist bumps from every student who passes him in the hallway. You can’t hold a conversation with this guy because of all the kids interjecting with “Hey, Mr. Battle!” as you walk together to the lounge to check your mailbox. Even his name is cool. All the other teachers secretly want to be his friend too. But he’s already taken. His bestie is The Coach.

2. The Coach

Commonly referred to as The Group Work Teacher, this one runs his classroom just like he runs his team. A few examples:

With his team #1: No athlete will speak during practice unless spoken to. Don’t even attempt a response without direct eye contact and a response that ends in “Yes sir!”

In the classroom: No student will speak during class unless spoken to. Don’t even attempt a response without direct eye contact and a response that ends in “Yes sir!”

With his team #2: Players are expected to review the weekly scouting report. They are told to pair up with a teammate in the like position and quiz each other on their roles for the next game.

In the classroom: Students read the weekly chapter from the textbook. They are told to work in groups; complete the study guide at the end of the chapter.

With his team #3: Team gathers in locker room to watch and discuss game film.

In the classroom: Class watches a film after every test. “Wait! There’s a movie for that!”

3. The Newbie

This poor soul is readily identifiable by the permanent deer-in-the-headlight look on her face. Brace yourself if you teach in the classroom next to hers. She needs you this year. She will have A MILLION plus one questions, and it is your duty to teach her. She’s just now figuring out that she didn’t sign-up for the typical 9-5 job. She’s learning to juggle her home time with lesson planning and paper grading. Monday mornings are a special kind of struggle for her because she’s still young and holding on to occasional old, weekend-party habits. Hey, YOLO, right? Oh, and she remembers saying “YOLO!” while in college (because, come on! That was only last year.) while tossing back one more shot that will surely doom any hope of getting up before, say noon, on Sunday.

4. The Veteran

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This educator is a true professional. She has spent a great number of years perfecting her craft. Perhaps she has crossed that line where more years have been spent in teaching than in all the other phases of her life. She is often called The Lecturer because she’s been using the same lesson plans since 1976. But she never takes a sick day, manages to keep even the rowdiest of kids quiet, and is predictable and consistent to a fault, so no one messes with her. She has earned her seniority. That little calendar next to her desk counts down the days until retirement. It’s hard not to be jealous of her sometimes, isn’t it?

5. The Question-Asker

Every faculty has a token question-asker. This is the one educator who really likes to dig in to deep academic conversation during professional development. Unfortunately for the rest of the 150 faculty members, the group meeting will run 30 minutes longer than the time allotted on the agenda due to her incessant questioning.

“Yes, but what would Schlechty say about that?”

“I heard Kylene Beers speak last year. How can we implement some of those close reading strategies?”

Someone cut her off already! Find a new literacy article to distract her with so the rest of us can go to lunch!