instruction,  musings

just a kindergarten teacher

This weekend I caught up on some DVRed episodes of How I Met Your Mother. This scene made me so sad.

Lily: Because he was right; I am just a kindergarten teacher. And, yes, I have a degree in art history, and I was meant to do something with it—but I didn’t. Somewhere along the line I forgot to pursue my dream and, and now I’m old and I’m a Mom and it’s just too late for me.

I feel sad that teaching is portrayed as less than a dream, and that being “old” and a “mom” makes it too late to pursue one’s dreams. The show’s had some story arcs before about Lily wanting to pursue art as her dream, but it did seem like she’d grown to like her teaching career (at least from the absence of work complaints) over the past several seasons. Why go to the job change right away? Why not incorporate art in other ways (e.g., teaching it, creating it part-time and selling it on Etsy)? It’s always possible to “do something” with your passions without abandoning new ones. My friend Melissa is kicking butt at teaching and motherhood, and she’s pursuing her other dream of being a writer through her blog.

The Century Foundation also provides insightful perspective on this…particularly that Marshall could have told her how important she was as a teacher. We can say all we want about education reform, but we have a long way to go. It sure would be nice to see a Hollywood depiction of a real teacher with a balanced life rather than caricatures like Cameron Diaz in Bad Teacher or “save all the inner-city kids” types like Michelle Pfeiffer in Dangerous Minds. The “just a kindergarten teacher” with Lily Aldrin has more impact–because she’s a relatable, regular girl like the rest of us, her disregard of the teaching profession stings more.

Me: I am just a high school teacher. And, yes, I have a degree in engineering, and I was meant to do something with it—teaching math is it. Somewhere along the line I took a risk in pursuing my dream and, and now I’m 32 and one day I’ll be a Mom and it’ll never be too late for me.



  • Jess

    Love this. You be proud my friend! 🙂

    Dave and I always talk about how teachers are so important and help shape children’s minds, helping them to go out there with the right tools to accomplish their own dreams. OH my gosh…I wish that you could be my future kid’s teacher!

  • Laura

    Love that you took the risk, KQB, and so happy that YOU are in a career you enjoy! I am sure many students in your past and in your future will be grateful you took that leap. 🙂

  • Melissa

    Love love love this. What you said is so true and i love how you rephrased her words at the end. I love teaching and i do believe i was meant to be where i am!

  • Fawn Nguyen

    This is why I don’t watch TV. 🙂

    On the bright side, maybe her saying that she’s “JUST a kindergarten teacher” because she sucks at it. There are a few bad teachers out there, so if they don’t value their worth in the classroom, then perhaps they should leave.

    I love your “Me” at the end, Kristina. You rock!

    • Appetite for Instruction

      Thanks Fawn!

      I’ve been pondering quitting TV too after talking to friends who have abandoned cable. I spent a week without it because I wanted to watch HIMYM, New Girl, and Mindy Project with my boyfriend when he got back from travel…and realized I didn’t miss it and that we could have watched it online. Now to convince him to get rid of cable…

      I often wondered about whether Lily is a “bad” teacher. Potential evidence from past episodes: she takes naps during her kindergarteners’ nap time. She has been pictured talking on the phone to Marshall or friends in the middle of class. She applies her “Aldrin Justice” to her adult friends (stealing items from them when they do something she considers bad–like taking the Captain’s ashtray because he called her “just a kindergarten teacher.”).

  • Andrea

    A bit late on the commenting here as I just found this blog when I googled the phrase “just a kindergarten teacher” to see if people had an adverse reaction to it.

    I admit, I was a bit saddened by what she said too because I WANT to be a kindergarten teacher. I was a bit surprised as well since there were some episodes that showed her looking like she was having fun being a kindergarten teacher. But then I thought about how maybe she said it because she doesn’t want to be a kindergarten teacher, she wants to be an artist. It’s hard to be proud of your job if it’s not what you want to do. Me for example, I have a degree in Psychology and I’m working as a Human Resource staff which is right up my alley as far as careers-related-to-my-degree goes, but I could easily lament the fact that I am “just an HR staff” because that’s not really what I want to be (thought it’s just been less than 2 years since I graduated so it’s not too late for me yet). So maybe it’s not a blow towards teachers in general but just a reflection of how Lily’s not really doing what she wants to do in life?

    As an aside though, there was an episode early on wherein Ted told his kids that teaching Architecture was the best job he ever had.

    • Appetite for Instruction

      Thanks for the comment! I hope that you do get to be a kindergarten teacher–I made that change after 4 years and it was one of the best life changes I ever made.

      I agree re: perhaps Lily’s true passion does lie in art. The latest story arc about her working for the Captain is very odd though.

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