Sex Ed in Higher Ed

College instructor teaching human sexuality rants about the dumbing down of America, the lost art of manners, grammar and (the perfect combination of both) the thank you note. Also includes random rants about life, pet peeves, and sometimes raves about favorite things.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

I'm Sensing a Theme Here

Part I: About kids, more kids, no kids and Tater Tot Casserole.
Last night on TLC was a show called "16 and Movin' In" and we watched it. And lo, we were sore afraid. It was about the wrongly-famous Duggar family, parents Jim Bob (of course. What else would his name be? Except maybe Cleetas) and Michelle and their sixteen little white religious people. And they have their own website. Be sure to click on "Favorite Recipes." The very first recipe listed is "Tater Tot Casserole." That must be Arkansas code for "craptastic."

Hey, everybody, do the words "socially irresponible" ring any bells? As you know, I am all for women controlling their own fertility. Every child a wanted child. Etc., But I don't know. Doesn't Zero Population Growth matter? Could it be that perhaps it's not all about you and your religion?

For example, check out these stats from The Population Connection:

  • "Americans are only 5% of the world's population, but we consume 25% of the world's resources
  • With the 6.1 billion people populating our earth—requiring more space, more food, more air, more water, more natural resources—we disrupt this balance, bringing serious threats to our planet–and the world’s resources. Resulting social and environmental problems reverberate around the world.
  • 1 U.S. citizen consumes about 30 times as much as a citizen of India. If everyone on earth lived like the average North American, it would require four more earths to provide all the material and energy."

Even more scary? Jim Bob wants to run for Senate. This should scare you a lot, especially if you go to their favorite links page. Check out the one that reads: CBH: Because God loves kids! It took me a minute to find out what CBH stood for - and just when I was sure it was short for "Christian Butt-hole" I found out that it formerly stood for "Children's Bible Hour." Good. Because I was worried. Sure don't want a Christian Butt-hole in the Senate! Just imagine what our country would be like if that happened!

Part 2: Reflections on Parenthood by College Students, or "I Have Seen the Future and It Scares the Shit out of Me."

My first semester teaching, I made the mistake of having my students complete this stupid little worksheet I found in the instructor's manual. The worksheet was about our chapter on birth control, parenthood etc., The textbook has a little short section called "Childless by Choice" and talks about the "new trend" of child-free and how more and more Americans are choosing this. So, the worksheet had questions like: "What are some good things about having children?" and "What are some good things about being child-free" and "What are some reasons people might have children/might remain child-free, etc." And I never repeated the assignment again because some things? I only need to read once. Now it's your turn. Here are a few of the most hair-raising quotes from my students in blue:

What are some potentially negative things about not having children?

  • No birthday parties/Christmas/trips to Disneyland/nothing to look forward to! I'm sorry. What?!?! I guess not carrying another human being in your uterus makes Christmas disappear. When do birthdays disappear, 'cause I can't wait for that one.
  • Nobody that's your blood, just like you who will always be with you and always understand you because they're from you. It won't be the same with friends or wives because they're not just like you. I was dying to write back a snarky comment like, "So, it's safe to assume that this is the kind of relationship you have with your parents? You're just like your dad and you understand him all the time. Right? Right??!?"
  • Nobody to take care of you when you're old. Ah, yes. What an excellent reason to bring another person into this world. Welcome to the planet, Baby Timmy. Now let's get started on those "Changing my Depends" lessons.
  • No one to carry on the family name. Interestingly, this was written only by the male students. And even more ironic, it was typically written by male students who had last names like Smith, Jones, Johnson, and Brown. Yeah, that would be a loss. The "Smith" name would die out. How unfortunate.
  • You can't not have children. We are here to continue the human race. That is what we were meant to do and why we are here. My husband argues that this is the only student who has a legitimate point.
  • No one to remember you when you're gone. Okay, on one hand, I get the sense of the fragility of the human condition, we are all mortal, etc., On the other hand, a good reason to bring another human being into the world? To remember you?!!? Why not start a scholarship fund with your name on it if that's your main reason for having kids. It's probably a hell of a lot cheaper than having kids, too.

What are some potentially good things about having children?

  • You can buy little girls the cutest outfits and dress them however you want (!!?!) This one scared the shit out of me. And it (of course) was only written by the female students. I wanted to write, "Why don't you start with one of those geese some people have on their front lawns and just buy outfits for that."
  • Everything is more fun with little kids around. Birthday parties, Halloween, etc., Boy, these college students sure haven't been to enough "adult" parties if you know what I mean. Give me a nice glass of wine and some Stilchester cheese and adult convesation over balloons, birthday cake and noisemakers almost any day. I should have written, "Everything is more fun? Try completing your tax return with a screaming toddler standing next to you."

What are some reasons people would not have children?

  • They only care about themselves and their careers. (This one was written by almost every student - all 60 of them. It made me feel really, really good.)
  • They want more money and stuff. I don't know what exactly this meant. We want more "money and stuff" or money AND stuff. Like shoes. And expensive moisturizer.
  • Because you just want to be successful in your career and don't care about anybody else. Yes. That's why I'm here with you minions of Satan. Because I don't care about anybody else. Oh - and P.S. - college teaching - not equal to crazy financial success.

Okay. I'm done. Rant over.


Blogger liberalbanana said...

Teacher Lady, I have a question.

Is the school you teach at located in 1950? Because that's how I'm picturing these kids. Like in Mona Lisa Smile, where the norm for the women is to have a goal of getting married and making babies and the men are just fine with that.

I know that everyone grows up after they're out of college (they do, right? please tell me these kids are going to grow up some day!) but I'm really shocked by some of those answers. They sound like they came from a class of 5th graders. Especially the "no birthday parties/Christmas/trips to Disneyland/nothing to look forward to" comment! Don't get me wrong, it totally cracked me up - but in a horrified kind of way. Are young adults today actually that retarded?

If that kid was right, then maybe I'd never grow old. No more birthdays? Sweet! And oh my gosh, what if Jews and Muslims and Hindus didn't procreate anymore? No more Christmas for them, either! I bet they'll be bummed. (I'm pretty sure that's why all those people were having kids before, right?)

March 13, 2006 8:38 AM  
Blogger ColoradoCastaway said...

I'm not sure I would go around classifying(sp?) teaching as a selfish profession. and I know you aren't getting rich at it either. There are good things about having kids, and that being the case, they would make good reasons for some people to have them. However, they are not good reasons to chastise those who don't see the need or want to have children. A life without kids will be just as full as one with, just full of different things. I'm sure you don't spend the time I spend with my children sitting around with nothing to do because you don't have any. Furthermore, I am waiting patiently for the day when my youngest goes off to college so I can have that time back for myself. Having kids is a wonderful experience, but I can't envision my life as being unfullfilling if I didn't. I can think of a million things I would have done without them. They are truly a hinderance to an adult social life. except for those lucky parents who can pawn their kids off on a relative(unlike me) or have enough cash to hire a sitter whenever they want(unlike me). So i'll wait until that day comes and live vicariously through your adventures LOL :)

March 13, 2006 9:53 AM  
Blogger ColoradoCastaway said...

This is off topic but I came across it this weekend and thought you'd like to see if(if you haven't already) since we were talking about this stuff last week.

i'ts a video called "loose change" about 9/11. be prepared cause it's an hour 20 minutes long.

March 13, 2006 10:04 AM  
Blogger Jess Riley said...

I also laughed in a horrified way when I read these. And I think you SHOULD write those snarky comments on the paper! :) My dad does on his students' papers (he's a college English prof).

You should save these responses and mail them to these students in ten or fifteen years. Sort of a follow-up survey / reminder of how retarded they once were.

March 13, 2006 8:26 PM  
Blogger Schietto Sister said...

You make some great points about why having alot of children may be considered socially irresponsible. I also think that people think way too little about having children. I am almost certain that the majority of couples don't even consider the possibility of being a "childless couple." Perhaps it does not occur to them that they have a choice? I think you should contiune to do that excercise and use it to teach your students (is that possible?) about what SHOULD be considered when having children. I think that people make general, sweeping assumptions about couples that don't have children: they either can't have them or are selfish. Society needs to change that attitude, but shouldn't those that choose to have a large family be given the same consideration? Believe me, I never (EVER) want to try Tater Tot Casserole and I don't think that, in general, it is wise to have 16 children (especially if you think it is your religious duty.) However, many people from a large family are way better at sharing and thinking of the larger community than children from a small family. I think our society would benefit so much if people could be more accepting of others choices (except when it sounds as gross as Tater Tot Casserole.)

March 14, 2006 1:44 PM  
Blogger Isabel said...

You teach at a college? Because this is scary.

It's one thing to have strong ideas about something...but you have to *back up* your ideas with good reasons. Which your students have failed to do.


March 14, 2006 8:07 PM  
Blogger Isabel said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

March 14, 2006 8:08 PM  
Blogger Teacher lady said...

Yes (college) and yes (very scary.)

March 14, 2006 11:18 PM  

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