This site is dedicated to the professional and academic work of Dr. Angela Dye.
As a social science teacher, I have a deep fascination with social institutions and how they influence the development of the individual. Family being one of those social institutions, the first and primary institution in fact, I have also been interested in its psychology. I have been led to learn about systems theory that frames the family, and all of its members, as a single unit. One person’s behavior is usually symptomatic of the unit as a whole.
Seeing the individual as a symptom of a whole is critical. Often, we see children in classrooms misbehaving and want to quickly label them as disruptive. Yet, understanding system theory, I think there is more to understand about the system in which the child is influenced. And while I learned systems theory in the context of family, I, as an educator, also embrace that my classroom or my school is a system. And those behaviors, whether they are disruptive or accommodating, can be symptomatic of something in the unit for which I am responsible.
Many educators cannot take on this level of ownership. Of course seeing one’s self as the problem can be deeply threating to one’s own sense of self. So instead of blaming self for students’ disruptions, they blame parents. And, as often is the case (because often student behavior is about the teacher more than it is about the parent), the problem persists.
It is this spirit of not wanting to blame parents that I watched the movie, Room (directed by Lenny Abrahamsom). But for the first time in my professional career, I found myself scrutinizing the role of parenting. And as foreign as this is for me, as I would rather critique myself as an educator than critique someone else as a parent, I understand that I am not the only player in a child’s development. In the work of student empowerment, there comes a time where I must be willing to explore the entire system and not just the part within my direct control.
This four-part essay is about my critique of the character Joy in her role as mother in Room. It is a difficult reflection in that it stirs up some uncomfortable linkages between parenting and physiological conditions of adulthood. I offer it nevertheless in the spirit of recognizing the system of human development… and the realization that parents do have a role in their children’s empowerment.
Please come back tomorrow where I will discuss the heroism of mother and son in the movie Room. I will also set the stage to later discuss embedded challenges in their parent-child relationship.
Click here to read Part II.
Click here to read Part III.