To the Dear and Cherished Women of Education,
We know that decades of gender-based oppression are behind us.
If by behind us you mean “are previous to this point in time,” yes. If you mean “have happened and are now over,” no.
We know that the vast majority of gender-based crimes are against women. And we know that gender-bias still keeps many women under-paid and under-promoted.
But please — don’t take that out on your male colleagues.
This is already a blanket assumption that all female teachers take this out on all their male colleagues, and that the relationship between male and female teachers must be somehow inherently dysfunctional.
We know that this is considered a “woman’s” profession by some. We know that elementary education is for those who love little children, and it naturally falls to many mothers to do the job.
Right now I’m reminded of everyone out there who assumes because they don’t have any experience teaching that all teaching must be like babysitting or being another parent. If a person goes into elementary education because they “love little children,” which actually seems to me to insult the kids as well, they may well soon finding themselves overwhelmed or changing their minds about their feelings on kids. Elementary education is not for those who love little children — it is for those who want to help children learn some of their most fundamental concepts so that when they get to the upper grades they can be equipped to be productive students and caring citizens. It is for people who want to help move children from picture books to chapter books. It is for people who want to cultivate in children an early appreciation for learning, for exploration, for diversity. I could go on like this all day.
And we know that women predominantly handle most of the decorating in the world, especially in classrooms.
While statistically most people under the career title of interior design (yes, I checked) are in fact female, this statement still rubs me the wrong way. It could be that it makes it sound like setting up a classroom to be an optimum learning environment is “decorating,” or that it comes off, to me, as almost pandering — a sort of, yes well you ladies do most of this thing and that’s very important. It isn’t how I would phrase something while trying to address someone in the education world respectfully. Decorating my classroom is not about putting up curtains.
But please — don’t behave as if your male colleagues don’t belong.
We know that it’s a struggle to gain and maintain respect, especially from some of the trashier men out there. We know that balancing your career, a love life, and kids is a great challenge, one that society just hands most women without explaining how to do it.
Apparently this is only something that women have to deal with, and/or the men get a handbook. This is a harmful assumption to everyone. Not all women are struggling to balance these things — not all women want all three at once or at all — and it also assumes that men don’t have to balance a career and a love life and kids because the latter two things must not be important enough.
And we know that for once in your life, you’d like to have an original idea without a man coming in and taking credit for it.
But please – don’t treat all of your male colleagues like they are that one jerk of a man.
If a large majority of female teachers are for whatever reason treating you like a jerk, it might be valuable to assess your own attitude or actions to see why. It might not be that you’re representing every horrible male that has every trampled on women’s rights. It might be that you’re doing something to genuinely aggravate someone.
If it is not in fact a majority of female teachers treating you this way — if it is a few, or if it is an aggregation of people and attitudes and incidents you’ve witnessed via the internet or other male friends — you might consider addressing these as anecdotes rather than assigning responsibility to the entire female teaching populace.
We love teaching, too. We love working with you – most of the time.
I would like to think that this has nothing to do with gender, but goes on a person-by-person basis.
And you’ll find that most of us aren’t here to take anything from you, except a rubric or two here and there.
I don’t mind if you want to use my rubrics — let’s talk about them together and collaborate to make great materials. But if you’re sneaking into my classroom in the middle of the day and swiping it off my desk, well, I mean, then we might have a problem, dude.
Please trust us. We’ll be nice.
Please be nice back.
The Men of Education
I have no idea if you speak for all the gentlemen here. If you do, I hope the other gentlemen would pipe up and tell me that I’m being a dismissive and other-ing person in the professional sphere, so that I can stop it.
Otherwise, I have a hideous cold, I am schlepping myself to the final days of my last week of program as a Dayquil zombie, and GWALP might have given this one a pass for now but this is how I’m getting myself out of bed today.