Mom flips the script on bogus gender-biased worksheet
Helping your kids with their homework is an emotional roller coaster. There’s high fives when they get an answer right and sometimes tears (by both you and them) when something’s confusing. But one mom recently found herself utterly shocked by her six-year-old daughter’s language arts worksheet. Not because the assignment was difficult, but because the text of the assignment was horribly outdated and all kinds of sexist.
Lynn Polvino posted the worksheet on Facebook.
Titled “Back to Work,” the sheet tells the story of a girl named Lisa. Lisa’s having a stressful day because her mom is going back to work. The entire sheet talks about how upset Lisa is over the idea of her mom going back to work, and how relieved she is when her mom leaves work early to be with her right after school. While there’s mention of a dad, he sucks at making breakfast. The entire worksheet is a slam against working moms and makes dads look like idiots.
Polvino was rightfully annoyed. “It just pushed so many buttons for me, and with each sentence it managed to get worse!” she told Today. “My shock and dismay quickly turned to outrage. I mean, what decade are we in, anyway? In this day and age, we’re going to tell kids that mothers working outside the home makes their children and families unhappy? That fathers don’t normally do things like cook and wash the dishes?”
As a children’s book editor, she couldn’t help but use her skills to give the worksheet a much needed update. She rewrote the worksheet to reflect the realities of being a working parent today.
In Polvino’s revised version, Mom is returning to work after a year long maternity leave and Dad’s now using his paternity leave to take care of Lisa’s younger brother. The morning goes smoothly, because dad’s a competent adult who can handle things. Lisa has a great day at a well-funded public school complete with an after school program that offers art and robotics activities. Instead of worrying over wanting her mom at home, she contemplates her own future career options, like teacher or engineer.
Polvino shared both the original worksheet and her edited version online. Obviously, her new worksheet got a lot of love on Facebook, with over 1000 reactions.
While viral attention is nice, the best part of this awful assignment is what happened when Polvino shared her thoughts on the worksheet with her daughter’s teacher. As Polvino explained in an update, the teacher was out several days the week that worksheet was handed out and admitted that she hadn’t reviewed the old workbook closely before issuing the assignment. Not only did the teacher apologize and say that she agreed with Polvino 100%, but she also said she would review worksheets more closely before sending them home.
Polvino says the worksheet wasn’t really the teacher’s fault, it’s a result of a flawed system. “There’s not nearly enough support out there for working moms: inadequate maternity and paternity leave policies, the lack of affordable childcare, and all the subtle and not-so-subtle messages we hear—even in our children’s homework!—telling us that we should be at home taking care of the kids and managing the household make it hard to not feel guilty, to not question ourselves,” she explains. “I have so much respect for all the working moms of past generations who had to deal with this type of crap on a regular basis! I’m so grateful to them for paving the way.”