Sibling preferences create an unequal learning environment

Annabelle Smith, Staff Writer

I used to have a brother. Before he moved schools, teachers and older students would look at me with a knowing eye, saying, “You’re Ben’s sister?” I reveled in how my older brother’s friends knew my name, and I was blessed to know the truth about future teachers, classes and what school would be like when I reached my brother’s age. Life was golden.
But when my brother was in 8th grade, he proved himself more STEM-y than anyone I know when he decided to uproot himself and go to a high school over 15 miles away. I barely see him anymore, and it might as well be that he doesn’t exist.
So where did that leave me, the forgotten little sister? Sad, complaining, and left out, with no inside knowledge on what Ms. Beck liked in an essay or how the math teachers compared, surrounded by people who say, “Wait, you have a brother?” It’s truly a miracle I made it through freshman year.
So now, when teachers say to my friends how much they enjoyed their sibling in class, I want to say, I had a brother once! You would have liked him! This isn’t fair! But my red-headed sibling is long gone, and I will never experience the wisdom and partial treatment his mere existence could have brought me.
This isn’t a sentiment just shared by forgotten little sisters. Both only children and oldest children have told me how irksome it is when a teacher pays special attention to others just because they had a brother or sister preceding them. Teachers may not even realize it, but they are bound to notice some students more than others because of older siblings. And these special interests, based off what siblings were like, are inherently unfair to present students. Everyone is an individual, after all, even those who come from the same house and have the same parents.
By holding preconceived attitudes towards some students over others, teachers prevent an equal learning environment by treating younger siblings marginally differently. Granted, some teachers don’t even pay any attention to the existence of siblings in their classrooms. But the bonds between other teachers and some younger siblings do exist, and that’s unfair.
While not having a sibling can be difficult, it is also an enriching crash-course on independence. Without him, I’ve been enabled to be a stronger, more independent problem solver.
By going through many normal high school situations with no previous knowledge of what they would be like, I’ve had to adapt and make decisions trusting my own instincts, rather than those of an older brother.
But I still miss him. And all the nepotism he would’ve brought.