19 February 2016

Practice what you teach

As part of my job I read a number of columnists from Inside Higher Ed. A recent article, "Am I a Bad Feminist Mom?" by Laura Tropp, struck me on account of its honesty in acknowledging how our ideals do not always translate into reality.

She starts by stating she believed she "would be the best feminist mom," as she is "an academic who studies feminism, motherhood, and families. [She] knows about the glass ceiling, the maternal wall, and the second shift. [She's] read the studies on girls and self-esteem." And yet, she acknowledges, "The other day, I called my daughter “bossy” and my husband reminded me that, according to Sheryl Sandberg, people shouldn’t use that word around girls anymore. It might teach them to be less assertive later in life."

She concludes by noting how hard it is to practice what she teaches:
"I can’t help but feel that I’m a better feminist teacher than I am a feminist mother. It’s must easier to avoid hypocrisy as a teacher than as a mom. I can talk about beauty myths without revealing whether or not I choose to adhere to them. I can discuss the burden of the second shift without students witnessing my own struggles with it." - Laura Tropp
Whatever our area of expertise, I think her words apply to all of us who teach or lead. It is one thing to teach what is good and another thing to actually practice that.

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