It sincerely bothers me when people sandwich mourning of some young people with comments on brightness or talent and that they “had a bright future ahead of” them while completely overlooking others. It’s right up there with using only a certain caliber of young person as an example that those…
I disagree…kind of. I don’t think the problem is with people commenting on how bright of a future someone could have had, or how pretty or popular someone was. The problem is you’re assuming it isn’t said for everyone. Even though “pretty” or “popular” is something that is generally accepted as superficial, it’s still simply a celebration of who that person was (or was perceived as). I think it matters so much more that people would have thought about how someone looked/acted/was received, than to avoid that conversation because it seems to discriminate against others who don’t share those characteristics. I feel as though when someone dies, you should say whatever positive thoughts you have about them, rather than avoid it out of concern for less ‘high achieving’, “pretty”, or “popular” peers. The way you wrote about this seems to assume that other great, positive, and presumably more unique comments are not said when others are lost, and I just don’t think that’s true.
I appreciate the response, and to some extent agree. My issue is mostly when this appears in a news article or public forum, when even a brief mention could be given to multiple students, and when they only highlight one with these qualifiers. That’s what concerns me. The way that the public is given information about these things — the way that they’re covered — is such that the more “valuable” people are featured front and center, whereas someone who is “average” is often ignored. I know that we cannot necessarily mention every person and some special quality about them — or that those qualities would be appreciated. But I think that in the case that spurred these thoughts, more effort could have been given to try.
One year in my own high school, two students died. One died because he took a medication that he usually took, but did so while he had been drinking with friends. He was incredibly popular, a very sweet person, on the football team, lots of friends, very much an All American image. There was press for days, weeks. People missed him.
Another was from the alternative crowd, and lurked in the corridors and the courtyard with a tight group of friends. She lived in a difficult situation. She bullied (myself included), but the people who knew her said she was a good person with dreams and a plan. She was out one night walking to a local 24-hour snack stop and hangout spot by the school — she lived nearby — and was hit by a car. The press was minimal — two articles and then occasional updates in the back of the paper about progress finding who did it. Most of it questioned why she was out when she was, and made it seem like it was her own fault. Very few things were said about her, about her hopes or her friends or her future, because many people just assumed that she had none.
That’s the treatment that I’m talking about, that attitude that people take which permeates the approach and then solidifies the attitudes. It concerns me. It isn’t fair. But it’s something we see again and again, manifested in a number of ways.
I hope that made some sense. I’m not sure if I said it well. It’s a moving subject for me.
Halpern states that most high schools are currently too narrow in focus. He says that for today’s diverse youth population, a common curriculum in an isolated school setting is ineffective.
“We should be focusing on how to provide good learning experiences that are based on what we know about the development of young people,” says Halpern. “In high school, young people are learning more about their own strengths, limitations and qualities, beginning to find their own voice, and beginning to forge personal goals. We need to recognize and support different kinds of learning in high school that allow young people to grapple with a complex, shifting adult world.”
Halpern calls for American society to acknowledge that academic and applied learning can work together to provide better learning experiences
At least they didn’t blame the teachers. Bolded for “ideas that should never be novel in education.”
The way we talk about it. (Trigger Warning: death of youth. I'm incredibly sorry to those of you who have lost students or peers, and you may want to steer clear of this one.)
It sincerely bothers me when people sandwich mourning of some young people with comments on brightness or talent and that they “had a bright future ahead of” them while completely overlooking others. It’s right up there with using only a certain caliber of young person as an example that those certain groups of people can be functional.
A person does not have more value because they get better grades, because they were active in their church, because they took part in a hundred extracurricular activities, because they won awards for talent, because they were being scouted by someone.
A person has value because they are a person. When a young person dies it is not tragic because of how they performed, what they did, or what they got for it. It should be no more tragic for a future Harvard attendee to die early than it is for a student bound for community college, technical school, or no college at all. We should not affix a value on grief that matches the supposed “value” of the deceased as a person.
When a young person dies it is tragic because they are a person who is loved by someone, a person who is leaving people behind.
That young person is someone’s child, grandchild, student, friend, maybe someone’s sibling or significant other or parent. They are someone’s role model, or someone’s reason for getting up in the morning, or someone’s hope.
Language I’ve been seeing lately implies, “This young person is a greater loss than that young person because they had more going for them.” There’s no reason for it. Every person’s life should be valued, every person’s accomplishments — no matter the apparent “greatness” — should be celebrated, and any person’s loss should be mourned.
“On Saturday, February 18, 2012, the Frederick Douglass Foundation of New York presented the first Spirit of Freedom award to Jada Williams, a 13-year old city of Rochester student. Miss Williams wrote an essay on her impressions of Frederick Douglass’ first autobiography the Narrative of the Life. This was part of an essay contest, but her essay was never entered. It offended her teachers so much that, after harassment from teachers and school administrators at School #3, Miss Williams was forced to leave the school.
We at the Frederick Douglass Foundation honored her because her essay actually demonstrates that she understood the autobiography, even though it might seem a bit esoteric to most 13-year olds. In her essay, she quotes part of the scene where Douglass’ slave master catches his wife teaching then slave Frederick to read. During a speech about how he would be useless as a slave if he were able to read, Mr. Auld, the slave master, castigated his wife.
Miss Williams quoted Douglass quoting Mr. Auld: “If you teach that nigger (speaking of myself) how to read, there will be no keeping him. It will forever unfit him to be a slave. He would at once become unmanageable, and of no value to his master.”
Miss Williams personalized this to her own situation. She reflected on how the “white teachers” do not have enough control of the classroom to successfully teach the minority students in Rochester. While she herself is more literate than most, due to her own perseverance and diligence, she sees the fact that so many of the other “so-called ‘unteachable’” students aren’t learning to read as a form of modern-day slavery. Their illiteracy holds them back in society.
Her call to action was then in her summary: “A grand price was paid in order for us to be where we are today; but in my mind we should be a lot further, so again I encourage the white teachers to instruct and I encourage my people to not just be a student, but become a learner.”
This offended her English teacher so much…”
Read and reblog!!
“this offended her English teacher so much that the teacher copied the essay for other teachers and for the Principal. After that, Miss Williams’ mother and father started receiving phone calls from numerous teachers, all claiming that their daughter is “angry.” Miss Williams, mostly a straight-A student, started receiving very low grades, and she was kicked out of class for laughing and threatened with in-school suspension.
There were several meetings with teachers and administrators, but all failed to answer Miss Williams’ mother’s questions. The teachers refused to show her the tests and work that she had supposedly performed so poorly on. Instead, the teachers and administrators branded her a problem.
Unable to take anymore of the persecution, they pulled her from School #3. Wanting to try another school, they were quickly informed that that school was filled and told to try “this school.” During her first day at this new school, she witnessed four fights, and other students asked her if she was put here because she fights too much.
Long story short, they took an exceptional student, with the radical idea that kids should learn to read, and put her in a school of throwaway students who are even more unmanageable than the average student in her previous school. To protect their daughter, her parents have had to remove her from school, and her mother has had to quit her job so she can take care of Miss Williams.
To date, the administrators of School #3 have refused to release her records, even though she no longer attends the school, and they have repeatedly given her mother the run around. We at the Frederick Douglass Foundation have contacted school administrators in regards to this situation and have also been told to hit the pavement.
That’s what we intend to do. If this school will sacrifice the welfare of an above-average student whose essay, that they asked her to write, they find offensive, we intend to make everyone aware of this monstrous injustice. The school has a job, and it is not doing it. We would like as many folks as possible to call the Principal of School #3 and complain about this injustice. Her name is Miss Connie Wehner, and she can be reached at (585) 454-3525. This treatment of Jada Williams cannot stand.
See Video of Jada reading her Essay Here Read Related Blog posts Here, Here and Here”
I feel bad blocking what look like obvious spam accounts.
I mean…what if the wedding dress folks or the pornstar or the guy selling energy drinks want to read about education, too? All that I can see when I consider blocking them is someone on the other side of their computer screen with a tear running down their lonely, spambot cheek.
Sometimes I rush into things without...well...waiting. (That would be the definition of rushing.)
For example: after putting in at least 150 resumes back in NY and never getting a call back on one of them, I leapt at the position that moved me to Western MA without really thinking about whether it was something that would be well-suited for me. All I knew at the time was that they said they wanted me to be part of their organization so badly that, even though the position I had applied for was full, they wanted to offer me another that was open.
Pros: This meant I had a “plan” again if only for a year.
Cons: It turned out that the position was a horrible fit for me and not exactly what was described. I won’t go into more than that.
Well, I needed a way out of the position I was in. What I found was a part-time youth worker position with a national agency that has great programs and a great reputation. The position is in an area that really needs some help. They wanted me and I adored them.
Seems perfect. I took the job. I then found out that the location is an hour away. Well…I took it anyway. The other resumes — about forty in the past couple of months, here — hadn’t gotten a bite, and this was a great opportunity. That was about a week ago.
I just got a call from the after school program at an elementary within walking distance from my apartment. They liked my resume. Did I still want to set up an interview or had I already accepted another position?
In that split second I was thinking, “Oh. Oh no. OH NO. WHAT DID I DO. I DID IT AGAIN WHAT DID I DO.”
But then I thought about it. And I thought, “You know what? This position would have ended when the school year ended. There’s no summer program attached. That means that in another few months I would be frantically looking for employment again.”
The position I’m in now will offer MORE hours over holidays and summer vacation. And they need me there, whereas the after school position…well, it’s a different sort of thing.
I made the right choice.
(And I am just going to keep telling myself that.)
Elementary School Outreach/Student Card Writing Project: We are looking for people who will contact elementary school teachers in their area to encourage them to have their students make hand-written “Thank You For Your Service” cards, that NROTC [National Remember Our Troops Campaign, not the ROTC] can then forward to troops who are serving overseas. These cards take on a very special meaning when students take the time to use crayons or colored pencils to draw pictures on these cards.
The link above takes you to the find-a-chapter page, where you can find the contact for the Remember Our Troops campaign nearest you. If this is something that interests you, I would recommend contacting before you have your students write cards or thank-you letters, just in case there’s anything extra (Do they need thank you or get well more at the moment? Are they going to a particular unit? Etc.) that you’ll need to know.
Helping veterans is one of my pet causes. So when I saw this, it was inevitable that it would end up here where others could see it too. I didn’t register with them as a formal volunteer for this — this isn’t a program-pushed plugging. I just think that this, if you have the time, is a great thing to do for someone — many of the people serving overseas may not be getting any kind of physical letters or carepackages, and they’re not exactly splashed across the news a lot for folks back home to remember they’re there, so things like this mean a lot.
If this is something you want to do in a larger or more formal way and are looking for ideas, or if it’s something you want to extend to your middle or high school students, drop me a line and I’ll see what resources — whether they be additional links, books to match them with, or my own lesson plans — I can dig up.
But the MPAA has elected to give the movie an ‘R’ rating.
The language and violence that so many bullied kids face every day is apparently inappropriate for young viewing audiences. But that’s the point. The point of the documentary is to bring this issue to light, for everyone.
I can’t guarantee it would have the affect that the filmmaker and those involved in the documentary might want. I can’t guarantee that some students won’t watch this and say, “What wimps, they should be able to take it.”
What I can say, though, both as an educator and youth worker and as someone who was relentlessly bullied (which always surprises my students when I tell them, because if the subject of bullying comes up I tell them), is that this documentary should at least get a chance to try and open some eyes.
These are some great responses so far (though I don’t think I’ll be sacrificing a goat anytime soon). While I gear up for the new job, I may keep asking questions like this one to see what other people are doing and share answers for conversation. What do you think of what we’ve got so far? Anything strike you as familiar? Picking up any good tips?
that person on your FB page needs to either back their claims up with facts or stay away
I’m waiting to see if anyone else calls them out on it before tomorrow, as I know the leader of the group, who is a very competent and socially aware individual, doesn’t shy away from things. I’m also going to contact her tomorrow to see if she’s planning on addressing it. If not, I’m going to have to say something involving facts and linking references.
I'm not quite sure how I ended up in this conversation on my old LGBTQA's Facebook page...
…but I am currently trying to figure out how to respond to an apparent future educator who believes that depression is not a mental illness, that it is alright to condemn suicide, and that one can overcome not only severe depression but also “severe mental retardation” if one wants to badly enough (they brought that last one into the picture independently) because they personally know people who have done just that.
Where do I even start here? The future mental health professional and the teacher in me are both completely at a loss. And this lengthy response of theirs is where other people can see it in the group — the thought of other people taking this away as fact makes me incredibly uncomfortable.
Maybe I should start with a few gentle notes on facts…
Do any of the teachers (or otherwise active people out there) take daily vitamins? Were they suggested by a doctor or did you start taking them on your own?
When I was student-teaching a handful of people swore up and down on Airborne, so by the end of my second gig in the classroom I switched back and forth between that, a generic, and water bottle vitamin mixes. Did it make a difference? Well I did get sick less, but the scientist in me is shouting, “But there were so many other variables!”
With the worst of winter dwindling down (I think, I hope, possibly) for many of us, what have you been doing to stay well?
No professional feels completely prepared on her first day of work, but while a new lawyer might work under the tutelage of a seasoned partner, a first-year teacher usually takes charge of her classroom from the very first day. One survivor of this trial by fire is Amy Treadwell, a teacher for 10 years who received her master’s degree in education from DePaul University, one of the largest private universities in the Chicago area. She took courses in children’s literature and on “Race, Culture and Class”; one on the history of education, another on research, several on teaching methods. She even spent one semester as a student teacher at a Chicago elementary school. But when she walked into her first job, teaching first graders on the city’s South Side, she discovered a major shortcoming: She had no idea how to teach children to read. “I was certified and stamped with a mark of approval, and I couldn’t teach them the one thing they most needed to know how to do,” she told me.
This is something I felt myself, and which I hear from almost every Education student I’ve ever had contact with. The article is a long, sometimes frustrating, but very interesting read — one that you may find yourself nodding along with from time to time, depending on your background experiences.
On a somewhat serious note today because of a conversation the other day:
I am sure every girl can recall, at least once as a child, coming home and telling their parents, uncle, aunt or grandparent about a boy who had pulled her hair, hit her, teased her, pushed her or committed some other playground crime. I will bet money that most of those, if not all, will tell you that they were told “Oh, that just means he likes you”. I never really thought much about it before having a daughter of my own. I find it appalling that this line of bullshit is still being fed to young children. Look, if you want to tell your child that being verbally and/or physically abused is an acceptable sign of affection, i urge you to rethink your parenting strategy. If you try and feed MY daughter that crap, you better bring protective gear because I am going to shower you with the brand of “affection” you are endorsing.
When the fuck was it decided that we should start teaching our daughters to accept being belittled, disrespected and abused as endearing treatment? And we have the audacity to wonder why women stay in abusive relationships? How did society become so oblivious to the fact that we were conditioning our daughters to endure abusive treatment, much less view it as romantic overtures? Is this where the phrase “hitting on girls” comes from? Well, here is a tip: Save the “it’s so cute when he gets hateful/physical with her because it means he loves her” asshattery for your own kids, not mine. While you’re at it, keep them away from my kids until you decide to teach them respect and boundaries.
My daughter is `10 years old and has come home on more than one occasion recounting an incident at school in which she was teased or harassed by a male classmate. There has been several times when someone that she was retelling the story to responded with the old, “that just means he likes you” line. Wrong. I want my daughter to know that being disrespected is NEVER acceptable. I want my daughter to know that if someone likes her and respects her, much less LOVES her, they don’t hurt her and they don’t put her down. I want my daughter to know that the boy called her ugly or pushed her or pulled her hair didn’t do it because he admires her, it is because he is a little asshole and assholes are an occurrence of society that will have to be dealt with for the rest of her life. I want my daughter to know how to deal with assholes she will encounter throughout her life. For now, I want my daughter to know that if someone is verbally harassing her, she should tell the teacher and if the teacher does nothing, she should tell me. If someone physically touches her, tell the teacher then, if it continues, to yell, “STOP TOUCHING/PUNCHING/PUSHING ME” in the middle of class or the hallway, then tell me. Last year, one little boy stole her silly bandz from her. He just grabbed her and yanked a handful of them off of her wrist. When I went to the school to address the incident, the teacher smiled and explained it away to her, in front of me, “he probably has a crush on you”. Okay, the boy walked up to my daughter, grabbed and held her by the arm and forcibly removed her bracelets from her as she struggled and you want to convince her that she should be flattered? Fuck off. I am going to punch you in the face but I hope you realize it is just my way of thanking you for the great advice you gave my daughter. If these same advice givers’ sons came home crying because another male classmate was pushing them, pulling their hair, hitting them or calling them names, I would bet dollars to donuts they would tell him to defend themselves and kick the kid’s ass, if necessary. They sure as shit wouldn’t say, “he probably just wants a play date”.
I will teach my daughter to accept nothing less than respect. Anyone who hurts her physically or emotionally doesn’t deserve her respect, friendship or love. I will teach my boys the same thing as well as the fact that hitting on girls doesn’t involve hitting girls. I can’t teach my daughter to respect herself if I am teaching her that no one else has to respect her. I can’t raise sons that respect women, if I teach them that bullying is a valid expression of affection.
The next time that someone offers up that little “secret” to my daughter, I am going to slap the person across the face and yell, “I LOVE YOU”.
First of all, let me say that I’ve fallen a little in love with the OP of the commentary here.
Secondly, I have a very basic stance on these situations — teasing and bullying are not okay. In many situations, however, students literally are not sure how to more appropriately express their interest.
If a student comes to me saying a student teased, harassed, or hit them, I get the full story from the harassee and then talk to the harasser individually, privately. Sometimes it’s an issue of not understanding better. If a student says they’re teasing someone because they like them I explain that doing this is not a nice way to treat someone, and certainly not a way to help someone want to be your friend, and we talk about other alternative behaviors.
Sometimes the harasser says “Yes I did ___ but they did ____ first.” This has happened at least once, where a little girl came to us and said that a boy pulled her braids…and after discussion with both of them, it turned out that she had been calling him nasty names and kicking him at recess for the entire school year.
Most confrontations end in talking to the two students together — whether to check stories or to have a student apologize to the other. And it isn’t a matter of “Now say you’re sorry.” That’s meaningless. It’s more, “How do you feel about what you did?” Usually the students will feel bad on their own after we talk through it, but when they don’t, not addressing it will just make it boil over. Peace isn’t always reached, but I think that face-to-face conversation is important to acknowledging the conflict and creating some level of resolution.
Not necessarily a focused answer to the question, but long story short, I would never promote abuse as a show of affection. Ever. Not okay.
I’m currently student teaching 7th grade Language Arts. Back while I was still observing, my cooperating teacher put a sentence on the board trying to instruct the students about the placement of commas when writing a series. Fine, great, wonderful. But she neglected to add in the oxford comma, and it bothered me so much that I was compelled to get up and fix it. An action to which she responded, “Only real English teachers do that.”
Oh I’m sorry? Are you not a real English teacher?
Now that I think on it, maybe she’s not. She nitpicked the students into calling me by my full last name, despite the fact that both they, and I, were happy with “Ms. K”, yet she doesn’t insist upon them adding commas where they belong?
I looked forward to student teaching since I began work on my masters, and this woman is making my life hell.
Ignorance in students is one thing, — it’s my job to alter that — but ignorance in fellow teachers is a whole different ball game. One, I really have no desire in which to play.
7 weeks to go.
I wonder if when she said “Only real English teachers do that,” she might have been referring to the action of correcting another English teacher.
Correcting your mentor teacher in front of the students is a poor choice in action, in my opinion. First of all, it undermines her authority as a knowledgeable figure in the classroom. Secondly, you don’t necessarily know what she was going to be doing. Maybe she wasn’t going to introduce that concept yet, but was going to do so later. Maybe she was going to ask the students if anything was wrong with the sentence, or if there’s anything they might have done differently with the sentence. Maybe she was going to catch it and correct herself later, which I’ve seen teachers do in the classroom before — because teachers are human and make mistakes or forget things, and students benefit (in my opinion) by seeing that to some degree.
Maybe she doesn’t use the Oxford comma - not everyone does.
But putting this under the “ignorance” label is possibly a poor choice, whatever your feelings may be on the other things she does in the classroom.
No teacher is a perfect teacher. Sometimes teachers make poor decisions in the classroom. But other times, what you consider a poor decision is actually a difference in style, or a decision that will have clear reasoning later on. As a student teacher, you’re a sort of guest in the classroom. If your mentor teacher is doing something that doesn’t sit right with you, I would make a mental note of it and address it with them later, when they’re not in the midst of a lesson. If it still isn’t resolved, you could talk to your faculty or placement adviser to see if this is something to take further action on, or something to file away as “things I will never do in my classroom.”
In the future, maybe asking your mentor teacher to explain or walk through a lesson before they teach the lesson will help you better understand their choices. It will also show an active interest in your mentor teacher’s technique, which may help build mutual respect — though there’s no guarantee that the teacher may say it isn’t something they have time for.
In the end, sometimes your mentor teacher is going to do something you don’t agree with. Use your best judgement in deciding whether it’s something that should be addressed or not — but don’t address it in front of their students.
This is just my opinion, built on my own experience student-teaching.
I’m learning this first-hand! Because of other obligations I’m only in the middle of chapter three, but I think I’ve had a total of an hour to read if that from the moment I’ve picked it up. I particularly adore Katniss — she’s a survivor and expresses thoughts and emotions that many writers might consider “ugly” (negative, fierce, focused) or somehow inappropriate for a young female protagonist.
This book may thankfully push me to set aside a mandatory casual reading time for myself! (Such pleasures…fall to the wayside first.)
What other books do you like? What else would you recommend for someone trying to catch up on the best reads?
Originally I was reading this bestseller espionage thing to tide me over until my first of the le Carre novels come in to the library for me, but it turned out to be absolutely terrible.
So my housemate shoved The Hunger Games at me and told me I wouldn’t want to put it down.
Well, the last line of the first chapter actually made me wail so loud that said housemate asked if I was okay from the other side of the apartment. (That’s all I’ll say, don’t want to spoil it.) And now I’m hooked. The world-building, although it is completely dissimilar, gives me the same feeling of wonder and immersion that The Giver did in fifth grade (whatever your feelings on that one may be, it is a long-beloved favorite of mine).
This must be what love is. Books, once again you have cemented your place as my valentine.
This time, instead of listing all the grants available (because there are quite a few), I’m going to link you to the grant databases I’m browsing today — meant specifically for teachers and/or schools
GrantWrangler is an excellent resource targeted at teachers specifically, and I would definitely suggest keeping it in your toolbar and checking back every now and again to see what’s available. Seeing all of their available grants by deadline is a pretty simple fix: when you go to their grants search page, specify an end date in “Deadline till,” any date at all, whether it’s two months from now or a year from now, and it will weed out anything expired or not actually a grant. You can also browse by subject in the sidebar, for those of you looking for something in a particular subject or field.
GrantsAlert is occasionally a little more general, but most of their grants are education-oriented. Because it’s part of a larger site and not tailored the way GrantWrangler is there may be fewer opportunities, but it’s always good to glance over what’s there in case you find a gem. Here I have them organized BACKWARDS by deadline, because for some reason they include a host of grant listings for which the deadline has already passed, and that wouldn’t exactly be very helpful to you all.
There are a few other sites I’ve been using today, but they either require questionable registration information, are horrific to navigate (or, sometimes, organized incorrectly), or aren’t specific to education.
If anyone has questions about these sorts of things, I don’t mind answering!
Apparently the themes at Cathedral Building this week are “gender,” “suggestions that will lose followers,” and “things I never thought I’d be looking up for the education blog” (i.e., heterosexual fashion designers and pink machismo). Strange week.
Usually Psychology Today makes me cringe, I admit it. They’re a popular magazine as opposed to a scientific one and often have articles that seem more suited to Cosmo than a supposedly science-based publication. Then, of course, there’s the fact that they don’t always make the best choices (for example, ever publishing fringe evolutionary psychologist Satoshi Kanazawa’s racist article on attraction, though American Psychologist made the same mistake with another of his articles so perhaps Kanazawa just has good glamor).
But this particular article is a very interesting conversation about gender variance in children, here specifically boys, that helps illustrate what I’m trying to say but more coherently. Continue on past the mention of sexual reassignment — I know that at a young age that’s still very controversial and might put some people off immediately — because in a way that is not what this is about at all (though in a way it also is). Rather, the article advocates for a different way of looking at gender expression in young children, one that keeps in mind fluidity and tries to set aside rigorous gender expectations.
Essentially, it boils down to this: Does your little boy want to be a little girl because he wants to wear dresses and sparkles? Maybe. But maybe he’s just a little boy who wants to wear dresses and sparkles. Maybe he’ll grow out of it. Maybe he won’t. It’s all ok. The same can be said, I imagine, of little girls who want to wear jeans and t-shirts and play with trucks, though the point is raised that we don’t necessarily panic as much over such an occurrence.
I will say, though, that I do contest one major point in the article that I don’t even know the author realizes she makes. She implies that “swishy gay men” (yes, she did acknowledge that it was probably a politically incorrect term) were the only grown men who could grow up and still love things like dresses and the color pink. A bit narrow in gender consideration — though that’s another point she admits to in the article, that she’s made that mistake before.
I'm getting some very interesting answers/responses on the last post, so let me just clarify:
I am not telling everyone to go out and eliminate gender from their classrooms. Many people still believe that at early ages, gender divisions are a good and necessary thing to instill in their students/kids. What I will say is that, if one is going to do so, they should also be careful of instilling gender stereotypes that can hold kids back.
Gender is fluid. It isn’t sex. Sex is our biological designation — the parts we have. We are not, or shouldn’t be, defined by our sex organs and hormones. Gender is made up of the social and psychological aspects attached to a sex — or, sometimes, not necessarily matching with one’s sex. Gender expression is how we act this out.
Some people prefer to take steps to remove the blatant gender push in the classroom because you may have situations in which students don’t feel like they fit into the group you expect to put them in, or because they may feel like one but exhibit traits of the other. A little girl may be completely comfortable with being a girl, but wear boys’ clothes and hang around with the boys. A child that you look at as biologically male may insist that she feels like and is a girl, and be upset and confused when someone sorts her into the boy’s line. And at the age where students start really thinking about things like gender, what happens if you have a student that doesn’t feel like they fit either?
These are situations that someone might consider generally rare — but what we do in the classroom helps form the foundations for students’ experiences later on in life. So, for those students who don’t necessarily fit into the typical idea of whatever their gender may be (or whose gender and sex don’t match, at the time you have them or in the future), being sorted by gender is a way of saying “These are your peers that you have some unbreakable similarity to,” and when someone isn’t like “all the other girls” or “all the other boys,” it makes a marked impression on them when they stick out.
This is also something that can vary wildly from culture to culture. In some communities gender is rigid, in some its not. Many people are accustomed to a two-gender binary, whereas in some cultures — including some Native cultures here in the US — there can be as many as seven distinct genders or gender roles that are considered “acceptable” within a society.
I’m not telling you to tear the little skirt and no-skirt figures off the boys’ and girls’ bathroom signs (as much as those are aggravating for a whole host of reasons). I’m just giving you something to think about that you’re free to reject, explore, or ask more questions about later.
Ending Cissexism in the Classroom: Addressing and Sorting the Class
A post is going around with a list of five ways to end cissexism, among other great lists. The first suggestion on that list is not to refer to strangers as “sir” or “ma’am.”
And yet a lot of us do this in our classrooms. We call the students “boys and girls,” some of us have students line up boy-girl or have the genders compete to see which half of the class will do one thing or another first by who is quietest and sitting straightest.
I’m just as guilty — for a while, I called my first graders “ladies and gentlemen.” I never specified which did what, just that ladies and gentlemen are polite to one another, push their chairs in when they get up so no one trips, and don’t use mean words. Later on, I changed it to “friends.”
If this is something you want to tackle — it isn’t a priority for everyone — what would you do? What in your language could change? I had a teacher once who called us “fungi and germs” — not the most pleasant title, but it always got a laugh out of us. What about changing these titles according to your lesson focus? Maybe your students are “hurricanes and tornadoes,” or “primes and composites,” or “verbs and adjectives.”
And what about lining up, for those of us with students young enough to do so? Well, rather than using gender, any other variable can be called on to help get your students up and going in that orderly fashion. You could call by favorite ____ (food, color, subject, animal?) and give your students something new to talk about with each other at lunch. You could call them to line up by whoever feels a certain way about a certain classroom topic — how they felt about a story, whether they liked learning about the reptiles or the birds better, etc. Even predictions can be a good tool — “Line up if you think Magee will untie the knot. Line up if you think he won’t be able to untie the knot.” — just make sure if you’re doing predictions with a definite result that you change the order, or just like multiple choice questions, students might start figuring out the right answer by where you place it.
So what about you? Is this something you’ve thought about, or might think about in the future, in your class? What are you doing with your students in regard to depolarizing gender in the classroom?
What makes you want to work with children so much, what is your driving reason?
I wanted to think about how to answer this one for a little bit, because it’s such a big question. I want to stand up for the underdog. In that sense, I have and might in the future work with or to bring visibility to issues of poverty, race, the LGBTQ community, veterans who aren’t getting the support they need, mental health…but I do keep coming back to children, and ultimately that’s where I want to be, at some point in my life, in whatever capacity (teaching, doing psych work in juvenile detention centers, working with LGBTQ youth groups, anything).
It affects the way I choose to do this, too. Chances are, I’m going to prefer being in an area other teachers don’t want to go to, or working with an age group my education-involved companions avoid (re: middle school), or administering services that may or may not be typical. If someone asks me, “You’re looking THERE?” it’s likely to push me harder into wanting to go there — not for the sake of being contrary, but because it means there are fewer people willing to stand up for them.
And among other social issues that I’m also passionate about, children can sometimes be the most powerless, or the least empowered, depending on the circumstances. That’s not to say that young people don’t have power of their own. They have energy. They have fresh eyes. They have amazing imaginations. And I want to be there to make sure that those things blossom and grow, that they’re not strangled out. That those young people realize that they’re amazing people, each and every one of them, capable of amazing things.
All in all, I want to make sure that the people who need help get help. Children are at the mercy of so many factors in their lives — and so are their parents, and their teachers, and the people trying to help them. Adding one more protective factor can do so much, whether it’s an extra meal, the ability to read a book that helps them escape, confidence to be themselves, or a classroom where they know they’re safe.
Someone told me, “You can’t save anyone.” I’ve heard that a lot on the mental health end of things. And in a way it’s true. I’ve also heard “You can’t save the world,” which is in a way also true. Because it’s not about “saving” anything — about having that be-all-and-end-all power. It’s about helping them save themselves, and in the social justice and education fields, instilling in people the drive to go out and try to make the world a different place. Saving the world is a group effort. Empowering other people to do both of those things is important. Working with young people is my way of doing that. I want them to feel like they can do that. To feel strong, and accepted, and capable. And there’s a drive when I say that about young people that doesn’t push as hard when I say it about anyone else. So, I figure, this is what I’m meant to do, eventually.
“Many saw the answer in a melting pot concept, but their tastes favored a stew characterized by meat and potatoes, mildly flavored with a little salt and almost no pepper. Rice, yams, and maize were excluded from the recipe, and the rice, yam, or maize eaters were allowed at the table only to serve.”—
- The Norton Anthology of African American Literature
I discussed this with my classes during student teaching. Because I was in a small (conservative too) town, a lot of kids had never heard anyone tell them not to use “gay” in this context. Most kids did not care what I had to say and in a period of Government (one that I did not teach on a regular basis but observed most of the time), students quickly turned my discussion into the butt of a joke in class (purposefully using “gay” in a negative context just to see my reaction). My host teacher either ignored it or did not notice it. When I went to the administration to express my frustration, they just told me it was “typical” behavior and that I should just let it go.
It was beyond frustrating for me. At least the classes that were “my” classes listened to me and did not use “gay” around me.
However, this campaign makes me happy. I’m just hoping that some of the students mentioned above will see these someday. Maybe they’ll realize that it is actually offensive and they will stop using that word. Or maybe they’ll just roll their eyes and ignore it.
Awesome. This makes me happy too (the ad space, not the approach to the use of that word).
First of all, I’m thrilled that this is in such a public space. The Think B4 You Speak campaign does some really creative spots —I want to highlight a couple of their posters that I fell in love with a year or so ago, and if I can’t find the link I’ll just upload them myself (yes, they’re saved on my computer).
Second…”The last time you blocked someone, you were online.” Best court insult I think I’ve ever heard.
GLSEN can do great things, though I do wish they did some more work with trans* visibility/issues. I would certainly check them out as a resource if you’re interested in doing more LGBTQ-related work in your schools.
I was out at the monthly Gallery Walk in Brattleboro tonight, on a whim. The sidewalks were teeming with youth — not college students either, but young teens and tweens who’d probably been cooped up by the weather and thus took the relatively mild evening by storm. (One girl complained to her friends, who were contemplating popping into a record store, “I want air! I wanna be outside! You can go wherever but I’m staying out here!”)
At one point I came outside to so much noise that I thought there was a fight or a small riot, but it turned out it was just a particularly large group of friends horsing around — though in a way that sent one down to the pavement, and I felt myself hovering to make sure it wasn’t a kid being jumped.
Well at one point these two run up to me, and one says “Shake my hand!” And as I’m about to put my gloves on and do so — in part because my fingers were feeling the cold, and in part because I was feeling a little germ-anxious today — the other tries to push his hand away as a joke and exclaims “Don’t! He has AIDS!”
I couldn’t, really couldn’t, let that go.
So I shook his hand and I turned amicably to the other, and said “You know, I’ve worked with people who have HIV and AIDS, and that’s not okay.”
"No. You can’t spread AIDS by shaking hands, and it’s really hurtful to say that. But I’m going to shake your hand too because I think you’re still a good person."
…and he glanced at me, utterly baffled, and shook my hand, and the two walked off in contemplative silence for half a block. They still looked a little confused when reached their friends down a ways.
I have no idea if that made any difference or not but at least I know they were thinking about it.
Some recurring medical problems pulled the rug out from under me for a little bit there, partly my fault for not having taken care of it properly. I haven’t even been able to work with my tutoring students for almost two weeks now and I’m going a little stir crazy. Most of my tumblr activity on the personal blog has been reblogging ridiculous or beautiful things that are helping me out, leaving the education blog dry until I can string coherent sentences together. But thank you for hanging in there with me! We’re getting back to functioning!
An explanation for my new followers: I’m not in a strictly educational field, and this is mostly but not strictly an educational blog — I’m a graduated education and psychology student, only paperwork away from teacher certification in NY state, but working with a nonprofit in MA that deals mostly with youth. I’m on the background end of it rather than direct service, for the first time, which gives me a healthy understanding of the need for both…and that I’d rather be in direct service.
But the benefits you all might be able to reap from this is that when I see a good education grant pop up, I post it.
Original content still includes lesson plans or classroom activities and critiques on education, but also might include resources related to social justice or mental health for teachers/in the classroom/in general. Comics and popular media that could be useful in the classroom may make its way here, as I’m a comicker/artist/writer and all-around nerd and love to see multiple genres and creativities used in the classroom. I’m also an AmeriCorps and City Year alumna, though the opinions I post on this blog are strictly my own and in no way represent those organizations. Apparently I’ve got a decent gig here as a resident LGBTQ advocate for teachers and students, which I can get pretty psyched about. Please never hesitate to ask me a question, I’ll do research to answer it if I have to! And when something crosses my dash that could be helpful or prompt discussion, I pass it on.