Teachers Are Babysitters Too?

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Teachers are often compared to babysitters, but whether or not this is a fair assessment is up for debate. Ordinarily, teachers do not wish to be babysitters as part of their job, and in the strictest sense they shouldn't be. However, if your students are young enough to need adult supervision outside of school, then you are technically their babysitter as well as their teacher. Fortunately, babysitters can also teach their charges new skills, so the comparison should not be such an insulting one.

In senior English class, we played a game in which we had a job title taped to our backs and had to treat each other accordingly to figure it out. After that, we were to line up in order of the importance of each job. I had gotten "teacher" and found myself at the back of the line. However, we then had to reorder ourselves for the time period that we were studying, and I was put at the front of the line. Clearly our society's priorities have changed since the days of Pride and Prejudice and the like. Back then, though, nannies and governesses were somewhat responsible for the children's education as well as taking care of them. In our time, teachers as well as volunteer parents chaperone school trips and events all the way up through high school, which is like babysitting in a way.

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While looking for free clipart for this article, I only came across literal babies for "babysitter." This is not the kind of babysitting I had in mind, nor do the teachers having their job being compared to theirs. Real babysitters not only take care of children, but they also help them and listen to their problems. Homework help is a given, as well as giving tips and advice for the years of school ahead. Depending on the relationship between the babysitter and child (neighbors, cousins, etc.), there could also be shared interests and experiences over which to bond. Television and the Internet have been accused of usurping the role of babysitters as well as teachers, but in both cases these forms of media need to be supplemental to those jobs. After all, human contact in real time is an invaluable resource such as the knowledge they share.

The most important lesson teachers and babysitters can both give is patience. In preparation for the real world, educators and caregivers are expected to prepare their young charges for the hardships of adult life. This often involves cautionary tales, horror stories, and multiple threats to toughen up. In preparing for the worst, we accidentally and needlessly perpetuate the worst in ourselves. If the world is cruel, then all the more reason to practice kindness. We cannot be unkind because we expect the world to be unkind to us (which it often is because people think caring isn't a requirement), unless that's the type of world we want. Is it? No. We live by supporting each other, and sometimes roles can be reversed when the children are put in a position to help their guardians.

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In conclusion, babysitters can be teachers, and teachers are sometimes required to be babysitters. There should be no shame in any of it. If the complaint is that students act like children younger than they are, then we must teach them and help them grow up. Sometimes a little fear is affective, but learning patience is better for both sides. Children learn something every day and can even teach the adults, who have either forgotten or never knew.

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