Today in my ECS 110 class, we looked at some videos of successful culturally responsive schools that create environments in which their Aboriginal students can achieve academic success. One of the schools had a day care right in the building and some of the video clips showed teen mothers with their children at the daycare.
I can’t say I am proud of this, but it is the honest truth that I immediately caught myself looking down on these teen mothers. In true teacher fashion, I quickly stepped back and thought, “Why do I feel this way?”
Any mention of teen pregnancy in my schooling presented it as shameful, irresponsible, a HUGE mistake, etc etc etc. Shows like ’16 and Pregnant’ and ‘Teen Mom’ don’t always present the situation in a positive light, either. TV shows involving characters who think they are pregnant or get pregnant are scandalous incidents. Media urges teens to ‘abstain from sex’ and ‘use protection.’ So is it really any wonder that I reacted this way? Feel free to disagree, but I think that many of the representations of teen pregnancy in our world today have TAUGHT me to think of it like this.
I don’t condone teen pregnancy and this post isn’t meant to promote unprotected sex. All I am trying to say is: What can we do for/what supports can we offer to girls who do get pregnant?
And this is exactly why the day care at the school is such a genuinely helpful thing. A mistake or bad decision shouldn’t affect the ability for a young mother (or father) to experience success in their life. Yes, having a baby at a young age is a HUGE responsibility and will change your life immensely, but that doesn’t mean that the mother/father should lose their right to an education.
At first I thought, “I don’t plan on teaching high school students, so why should this even matter to me?” But teen parenthood can affect elementary school teachers as well because students’ parents may be very young. I want to ensure that I am open minded and understanding towards any potential parents who did have teenage pregnancies.
In closing, I have learned a lot about myself through this experience! I cannot look down on people who have been in these situations that society portrays so negatively. Each person I interact with as a professional deserves my respect. I can’t judge them until I have walked a mile in their shoes. Which is why I am interested in watching Juno again and finding other resources that can allow me to see things through a teen mother’s eyes.