A friend and I were out with our kids when another family’s two-year-old came up. She began hugging my friend’s 18-month-old, following her around and smiling at her. My friend’s little girl looked like she wasn’t so sure she liked this, and at that moment the other little girl’s mom came up and got down on her little girl’s level to talk to her.
“Honey, can you listen to me for a moment? I’m glad you’ve found a new friend, but you need to make sure to look at her face to see if she likes it when you hug her. And if she doesn’t like it, you need to give her space. Okay?”
Two years old, and already her mother was teaching her about consent.
My daughter Sally likes to color on herself with markers. I tell her it’s her body, so it’s her choice. Sometimes she writes her name, sometimes she draws flowers or patterns. The other day I heard her talking to her brother, a marker in her hand.
“Bobby, do you mind if I color on your leg?”
Bobby smiled and moved himself closer to his sister. She began drawing a pattern on his leg with a marker while he watched, fascinated. Later, she began coloring on the sole of his foot. After each stoke, he pulled his foot back, laughing. I looked over to see what was causing the commotion, and Sally turned to me.
“He doesn’t mind if I do this,” she explained, “he is only moving his foot because it tickles. He thinks its funny.” And she was right. Already Bobby had extended his foot to her again, smiling as he did so.
What I find really fascinating about these two anecdotes is that they both deal with the consent of children not yet old enough to communicate verbally. In both stories, the older child must read the consent of the younger child through nonverbal cues. And even then, consent is not this ambiguous thing that is difficult to understand.
Teaching consent is ongoing, but it starts when children are very young. It involves both teaching children to pay attention to and respect others’ consent (or lack thereof) and teaching children that they should expect their own bodies and their own space to be respected—even by their parents and other relatives.
And if children of two or four can be expected to read the nonverbal cues and expressions of children not yet old enough to talk in order to assess whether there is consent, what excuse do full grown adults have?
I try to do this every day I go to nursery and gosh it makes me so happy to see it done elsewhere.
Yes, consent is nonsexual, too!
Not only that, but one of the reasons many child victims of sexual abuse don’t reach out is that they don’t have the understanding or words for what is happening to them, and why it isn’t okay. Teaching kids about consent helps them build better relationships and gives them the tools to seek help if they or a friend need our protection.
'Expertise' as used here almost always requires the acceptance and approval of the Powers That Be - automatically excluding anyone who has knowledge that comes from experience (look, ‘expert’ and ‘experience’ have the same root for a reason), who can’t afford/has no access to traditional institutions through which ‘expertise’ is conferred, whose expertise conflicts with the agenda of those Powers, etc., etc.
The glory of Google and Wikipedia and everything like them is their ability to democratize knowledge. Furthermore, that is precisely what teachers want: to help people learn stuff, whether they normally would or not, whether it’s taught in schools or has been thrown aside for three months of test prep, whether it’s the area someone specializes in or is simply curious about… There’s no reason whatsoever that knowledge has to come from a ‘professional’ rather than some other source; that doesn’t make the knowledge any less potent, or any less true.
There is no division between “students and teachers, knowers and wonderers”. I am a teacher; I am also a student, always, because no matter your knowledge, you can always learn more. ‘Knowers’ v. ‘wonderers’? Really? How do you think people come to know things in the first place? I’m definitely an ‘expert’ on a number of things—an institutionally certified expert, even!—but I still wonder about all those things. Besides, who determines what is ‘knowing’? Plenty of those things I have expertise in are *not* institutionally certified, and that makes my expertise not one whit less.
For instance: I know a shitload more about recovering from traumatic brain events than my neurologist. He knows all about how these things happen in the first place, all the ins and outs and mechanisms; however, when it comes to practical advice for what’s necessary to not continue to fuck yourself up in the weeks afterward, he learns a hell of a lot from me. He’s an MD/PhD, he’s about as ‘expert’ as you can get; but that’s nothing in the face of actual experience. In fact, the main reason I knew he was an infinitely better doctor than the other neurologists I’d seen is because he acknowledged how little he knew about the experience of, say, having your life force drained from you by anti-seizure medication. Despite his honest-to-Dog genius, he does not pretend to all-encompassing expertise, or treat his fount of knowledge as the only valid source - which makes him smarter and more ‘expert’ than anyone who thinks they know it all.
And everyone knows that the only difference between professionals and laymen is that one gets paid for their achievements and the other doesn’t. It’s such a pathetic example, really: ‘laymen’ is a word created to distinguish the people who were not endorsed by the institutional Powers That Be in religious life; the Jesus Christ of the Bible was a layman, and as such was anathema to the institution. Now, we’ve all seen how much we should blindly trust and accept what the Church/etc. tells us, right?
Finally, that bit about “achievement in an area” is utterly nonsensical. Is ‘achievement’ supposed to stand in for ‘experience’—which, as already noted, is never accepted as institutionally valid in conferring ‘expertise’? Does ‘achievement’ mean an official document a la a diploma? How many of the world’s political leaders have degrees in management, policy, diplomacy, etc.? Have they ‘achieved’ less than those who have studied those topics in a fucking ivory tower? To reverse the question, there’s that old saw about how those who can’t do, teach. Now, I think that’s bullshit, because teaching is a fucking skill, and plenty of people who have incredible achievement in an area can’t go into a classroom and convey any of that in a useful way. By the same token, when those people *are* good teachers, do we keep them out of the classroom because their ‘expertise’ comes from experience rather than academic success? Never.
This whole thing is bullshit. All those signal words—expertise, professional, layman, student, teacher, knower, wonderer, achievement—are deliberately misused, ignorant of their actual definitions and meanings, to make a faux-profound statement that has no purpose other than to bitch about how the Powers That Be are no longer as all-important in conferring expertise as they used to be.
You can be an expert without paying for it. That really pisses this person off.
"I worry that in an information-driven age of technological marvels, nobody will treat me like I’m a wizard-priest anymore."
I think this is becoming a sort of under-the-table war. And I’m not really exaggerating. For example, recently various academic groups and journals have been banning their members and editors from having blogs:
“Academic blogging grew from the desire to compensate for people being unable to access academic scholarship,” Saideman told the Guardian. He said academic blogging has become a part of a professor’s job and that it is part of a movement to share scholarship with broader groups of people, including translating it into other languages.
One of his many critiques of the ISA’s proposal is that it further reduces the plurality of voices in scholarship, potentially affecting the number of minorities and women heard in academic discussions. If you’re telling people that the only way to be on editorial teams is by reducing your voice elsewhere, then that’s logically going to reduce the amount of voices out there,” Saideman said.
"tumblr taught me more than school ever did" is obviously referring to things like sexism and racism and disability and abuse and not to things like reading and math, stop being deliberately obtuse for notes
…tumblr also taught me more about literary criticism and enjoying metafictional elements of literature than school ever did.
Also higher math, like anything beyond algebra. School failed me SO HARD.
So I mean… there’s that as well. People aren’t just being obtuse; they’re presuming universality of their own schooling experiences.
im embarrassed that i hadn’t thought of that, but it’s so obviously true. like, the amount of well researched posts i’ve seen teaching people how to do their taxes, how to balance a checkbook, how to open a bank account, etc. are 100% more info than i ever got in school. and as far as the literary criticism goes - hell yeah. it was something i already did, but up until tumblr basically assumed i was just, well, over-critical and generally doing it wrong. never doubt how much influence having a environment to engage material in will have on an individual’s ability and willingness to learn.
… I spent a lot of time in High school completely confused as to why some classmates didn’t get into the actual crit. (I also eyerolled hard core when teachers made a big deal out of it. Like… really?) And I must say that the reason why was fandom- the hours and hours of pouring over people’s impressions of a text, of reading people’s reinterpretations of it, of consuming meta… By the time I was in high school, this was my recreational time. I interpreted a lot of assignments as though everyone had this background, and ended up thinking I had done poorly only to get a high grade back. Very confusing.
(On the other hand I didn’t realize Children was 2 syllables instead of three and other really basic ish so.)
The Myth of the Disrupted Classroom
When I was a Junior in high school, my girlfriend was sent home from school for wearing inappropriate clothing. She was wearing layers of slips on top of each other that, together, broke no established rule of our dress code. She was told by our principal, formerly the principal of a parochial girl’s school, that her dress was more appropriate “for a garden party,” and therefore inappropriate for learning. She sat in the principal’s office and told the principal that she was being singled out because her clothes were weird, and because her clothes didn’t cost a lot of money. She was offered a sweater to cover her arms and go back to class. She refused. She got into her gold Cadillac and drove home for the day.
I married that girl. People should marry those kinds of girls when they find them, and if they can get those kinds of girls to fall for them.
Now I am a teacher. I went into teaching to, of all things, teach. I’m not sure I went into teaching to be a Teacher. Being a Teacher feels like teaching, plus all the other stuff. I learned a lot from great educators and mentors in my life. I remember hating most of my Teachers. I remember Teachers discussing the clothing of students and scoffing and “oh my god did you see”ing. I say I don’t care what kids wear. I remember Teachers talking about a disruption to learning.
I can’t tell you how much I don’t care what anyone wears to school.
I can’t tell you how few times I’ve ever seen clothing of any kind disrupt class in any way. In fact, let me say this: I have never seen clothing of any kind disrupt class in any way.
I’ve certainly seen disruption, pretty massive disruption, caused by enforcing dress codes. Students often, and understandably, react poorly to being told that clothes they have on or body parts they have make them inappropriate for school that day. There are melt-downs, to be sure, and indignation. There is yelling and arguing and many things that are massive disruptions to learning. Sometimes kids go home for the whole day, which is a whole lot of learning not happening.
I’ve seen administrators enter active classrooms, walk around the room sticking their heads under desks to look at the length of skirts and shorts. Really, in the real world, I’ve seen this. I’ve seen girls asked to stand up in front of classes, looked up and down and then told, “yeah, I guess you’re ok. Sit back down.” I’ve watched administrators leave, and then cared for embarrassed, shamed, angry students. I’ve seen whole hours and whole days of learning disrupted by enforcing dress codes, and that doesn’t take in to account the emotional damage done to students by a system that should be protecting them.
I’m certainly uncomfortable with the message we are sending. Kids are self-conscious enough. Girls especially have enough people commenting on how they look and holding them to an often impossible and moving target of appropriateness, attractiveness, and self expression. I don’t like the message of a school telling someone that the clothes they put on their own bodies made them a problem for the whole school they attend, so much so that they need to go home, or cover up. So much so that they need to feel shame. Shame disrupts learning more than skirts. I promise.
We’re more comfortable confronting the girl wearing the thing, and not the boys who say the things about her. We are comfortable putting the blame for the actions of boys onto the girls around them.
We are no one to say what is right or wrong, appropriate or not. We are no one to say how kids should act or dress or what jobs they should wish for or what friends they should have. We should give them all the information we have, any information that will help keep them safe and successful and sane, and then we should let them make their own choices.
Schools are not moral authorities. When we create judgement calls about things like appropriate or not, acceptable or not, we leave room for each teacher and administrator to judge a student against their own moral code. When we enforce dress codes, we leave room for every staff member to address students that make them feel uncomfortable.
To be honest, I’m not sure why we act as authorities at all. As a school, we offer something so precious and so valuable. We offer the skills and ideas, we offer a path to success. So why do we spend so much time tracking tardies, enforcing behavior and dress codes, demanding silence and a level of respect that is reverential at best and fear-based at worst.
Anyone who knows enough teenagers knows that the more rules you give them that don’t make sense, the happier they will be doing the opposite of what you tell them. The more you shake your head and act stern, the more they will see you as someone to disobey.
We have this phenomenal power as teachers, as workers in schools. We control this massive amount of time students are required to be with us. We control their grades, their access to opportunities, the experience of many years of their lives. We control great portions of their self image, of their confidence, of their skill levels.
We don’t need to grab any more power than we already have. We don’t need to feel like we have to control every single thing to maintain the power we already have. We have important things to do all day. We don’t need to spend time on other stuff.
Out of all the teachers I have ever had, this man has always been my favorite.
How does this not have more notes?
“I didn’t expect it would be all women and it was a small classroom and about 40 women were sort of sitting in a semicircle and the thought of spending two hours every week sitting there for the next four months was overwhelming.”
Male expects special accommodation because he doesn’t want to be around women, and then sues for discrimination. Amazing.
homeboy never heard of dropping??
So…he was stuck into the same situation that many women in STEM fields are stuck in but it’s different because it scared his little man feelings?
An actual shy person wouldn’t go to court over this. All that exposure and scrutiny? No thanks.
No, because see, he’s love shy which is a chronic inability to deal with women because they might not want to date you.
He went to a women’s studies class expecting men
HE WENT TO A WOMEN’S STUDIES CLASS EXPECTING MEN
I have -1920% sympathy for this douche.
lol attendance and participation were only 15% of the grade. it would have been possible to pass without ever attending if his work wasn’t shit.
He wasn’t stuck in the same situation as women in STEM fields (as said above) because this was only ONE single class. Women in STEM fields experience being outnumbered and ostracized for their entire academic career. NOT ONE PUNY LITTLE SEMESTER LONG CLASS.
I hope the judge laughs him out of the courtroom.
Students aren’t people who attend schools, being a student is simply about the endless pursuit to learn and explore. I’ve always said that I’ll be a student for life.
Last week, I attended the retirement party for one of my teachers, Dr. Chittum. He was one of the best.
During the event, several faculty and staff went up to tell stories or extend their humble thank you to Dr. Chittum - one of the lessons they mentioned was his proclamation to “teach the student, not the subject.” His thinking was that he could teach a course on car manufacturing if he wanted to. He doesn’t know the subject, but that was never his concern. He knew a legendary course started with the teacher, not the textbook.
I enjoyed hearing those words because when I was in his class I always wondered what went through his head. Any teacher can teach by-the-book, but pedagogy isn’t about following the book, it’s about feel. Grades don’t make you a better student, and mastering a subject won’t make you the best teacher on the topic.
A school, whether Kindergarten or a Doctorate Conservatory, isn’t a place to teach subjects. It’s a place to teach students. It’s a place to take risks, be surrounded by an osmosis of failure, passion, learning, excitement, and experiences. They all go hand-in-hand in the journey to succeed and learn.
Hearing some of those stories and mindsets was interesting that afternoon because when I was in school I simply attended classes (or illegally slept overnight in the recording studio since I didn’t live on campus) every day. But this event felt like looking inside a machine - one that you didn’t understand years prior. Now I was being included in the circle - it felt like inside baseball. It felt like I was in a secret club learning about top-secret tips and tricks that were used on me without me knowing why it was so effective.
I always try to apply what I learn each day to my own career and community. At ForOrchestra it’s similar but different.
I may not be teaching but I’m making the blog I always wanted to read. That’s the lesson. My own version of Dr. Chittum’s mindset would perhaps be “don’t speak to the community, be a part of it”.
I always wanted to be surrounded by freaks, geeks, artists, weirdos, creators, and wishers. Here I am, not on a podium looking outward, but on the ground surrounded by each other, lost in the scene.
We’re all students, together.
Pay attention to the Oscar nominees - Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave is now/soon mandatory viewing in school. Despite reports that a low percentage of the
Arizona’s law banning Mexican-American studies is constitutional, judge rules
February 25, 2014
A court upheld most provisions of an Arizona state law used to prohibit a controversial Mexican-American Studies curriculum in Tucson on Friday.
The ruling dealt a blow to supporters of the suspended classes, who had hoped the courts would overturn a 2010 law championed by Arizona conservatives determined to shut down the unconventional courses.
“I was really surprised at the decision,” Jose Gonzalez, a former teacher of Tucson’s suspended Mexican-American Studies classes, told The Huffington Post. “But as a student and teacher of history, I know in civil rights cases like this there’s always setbacks.”
The experimental Tucson curriculum was offered to students in different forms in some of the local elementary, middle and high schools. It emphasized critical thinking and focused on Mexican-American literature and perspectives. Supporters lauded the program, pointing to increased graduation rates, high student achievement and a state-commissioned independent audit that recommended expanding the classes.
But conservative opponents accused the teachers of encouraging students to adopt left-wing ideas and resent white people, a charge the teachers deny. Aiming squarely at Tucson’s Mexican-American Studies program, the Arizona legislature passed HB 2281 — a law banning courses that promote the overthrow of the U.S. government, foster racial resentment, are designed for students of a particular ethnic group or that advocate ethnic solidarity.
Federal Judge Wallace Tashima said the plaintiffs failed to show the law was too vague, broad or discriminatory, or that it violated students’ first amendment rights.
The news wasn’t all bad for supporters of the suspended classes. Tashima ruled that the section of the law prohibiting courses tailored to serve students of a particular ethnicity was unconstitutional.
Originally filed in October of 2010 on behalf of the program’s former teachers, who lost standing because they are public employees, the case is currently brought by former Mexican-American Studies student Nicholas Dominguez and his mother Margarita Dominguez. They will likely appeal the ruling to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals within the next 30 days, their lawyer Richard Martinez told The Huffington Post.
“This case is not over,” Martinez said. “It’s not only important to Arizona, but to the country as a whole that this statute be addressed.”
Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne began a campaign to eliminate the Mexican-American Studies program from Tucson Unified School District in 2006, when he was serving as the state’s Superintendent of Public Education.
Angered that Mexican-American civil rights leader Dolores Huerta had said that “Republicans hate Latinos” in a speech to Tucson students, Horne sent Deputy Superintendent Margaret Dugan, a Latina Republican, to give an alternate view. But the intellectual exercise turned confrontational when students, who said they were not allowed to ask Dugan questions, sealed their mouths with tape and walked out of the assembly room.
“As superintendent of schools, I have visited over 1,000 schools and I’ve never seen students be disrespectful to a teacher in that way,” Horne said in an interview last year.
The final product of his efforts was House Bill 2281, which then-State Sen. John Huppenthal (R) helped pilot through the Arizona legislature. Huppenthal, who succeeded Horne as state superintendent of schools, then found Tucson out of compliance with the new law and ordered the district to shut Mexican-American Studies down or lose 10 percent of its annual funding — some $14 million over the fiscal year. In January of 2012, the school board complied, voting 4 to 1 to discontinue the classes.
The decision drew national attention as administrators plucked Latino literature that once belonged to the curriculum from classrooms, explicitly banning seven titles from instruction.
This is what I’m often referring to when I talk about backlash and suppression of education in the United States. There is literally legislation that bans teaching the history of colonization and civil rights movements in various states-states like Arizona, in which 43% of the population are “minorities”…30% of Arizona is Hispanic/Latin@.
That’s not actually a coincidence. :|
This is systematic, institutional disenfranchisement in action.
In highschool, I would’ve gotten up at ass’o’clock in the morning for a zero hour class just to take a course on the history of my people. The Latino people of Arizona have been robbed.
And what’s worse is that Arizona is so rich with Native and Mexican culture, it’s so disheartening to see the government fight it so aggressively from their racist soap boxes. It makes me sick.
LAFAYETTE, Colo. – An elementary school principal says she was fired for protecting children from humiliation.
Noelle Roni says she fought against a policy requiring kids to get their hands stamped if they don’t have enough money in their lunch account. She was fired from Peak to Peak Charter School in Lafayette in the fall.
“The kids are humiliated. They’re branded. It’s disrespectful. Where’s the human compassion? And these are little children,” she said.
Roni was principal for nine years before being fired. She calls it a wrongful termination, and wants her job back.
Why in the living fuck is this not signal boosted the shit out of?
This is what a hero looks like…her name’s Noelle Roni.
Shout, shout, shout. This woman took a stand against shaming poor children, against disrespecting poor people.
They’re making an example of this woman for saying enough is enough….against a freakin’ charter school principal. You know, charter schools, which were supposed to bring access to poor and minority students to better educations and have turned out to be highly variable, and this woman said enough.
Noelle Roni. Remember her name, because she stood up. It’s time for us to return the favor.
Force kids in school to read crappy, overrated books that are “the best books ever written” solely because they’re “classics” and then call those kids idiots because those aren’t the kind of books they like to read and sit back and wonder why we have a nation full of multiple generations worth of people who willfully and proudly refuse to read.
Dale Spender, an Australian feminist who has been a strong advocate of female rights in this area, noted that teachers who tried to restore the balance by deliberately ‘favouring’ the girls were astounded to find that despite their efforts they continued to devote more time to the boys in their classrooms. Another study reported that a male science teacher who managed to create an atmosphere in which girls and boys contributed more equally to discussion felt that he was devoting 90 per cent of his attention to the girls. And so did his male pupils. They complained vociferously that the girls were getting too much talking time.
In other public contexts, too, such as seminars and debates, when women and men are deliberately given an equal amount of the highly valued talking time, there is often a perception that they are getting more than their fair share. Dale Spender explains this as follows:
The talkativeness of women has been gauged in comparison not with men but with silence. Women have not been judged on the grounds of whether they talk more than men, but of whether they talk more than silent women.
In other words, if women talk at all, this may be perceived as ‘too much’ by men who expect them to provide a silent, decorative background in many social contexts. This may sound outrageous, but think about how you react when precocious children dominate the talk at an adult party. As women begin to make inroads into formerly ‘male’ domains such as business and professional contexts, we should not be surprised to find that their contributions are not always perceived positively or even accurately."
As a teacher, I give girls what I hope is a lot of attention. I don’t know if I give girls their fair share, but I aspire to, especially after noticing that boys are willing to use their greater share of teachers’ attention to get girls who they feel aren’t being quiet and docile enough punished. I have therefore acquired a reputation for “caring more about the girls.” This has had two marked results: Some straight boys have gotten more hostile toward me, and most girls have gotten more confident around me. This makes me think I’m doing something right.
Longer thoughts on how this phenomenon relates to sexual harassment in classrooms, if you’re interested: The girls figured out I won’t report them if they hit boys who are sexually harassing them, I’ll only report the boys. This led to an increase in how often girls got the last word and boys got smacked in my classes, and, also, to a DECREASE IN HOW OFTEN GIRLS GOT SEXUALLY HARASSED. The sexual harassers seem to have been depending on the sort of “equal blame” and “retaliation is never warranted” and “don’t hurt others’ feelings” perspectives so many schools try to instill in kids; the sexual harassers were usually the ones bringing me into the situation by saying, “Miss, she hit me! You should write her up!” Once they figured out I was only ever going to respond, “If you don’t treat girls like that, they won’t hit you,” the girls got more confident and the sexual harassers largely shut the fuck up.
In schools, fighting against sexual harassment is often punished exactly the same as, or more severely than, sexual harassment — a lot of discipline codes make no distinction between violence and violence in self-defence, and violence is ALWAYS the highest level of disciplinary infraction, whereas verbal sexual harassment rarely is. Sexual harassers, at least in the schools I’ve been in, rely heavily on GETTING GIRLS IN TROUBLE WITH HIGHER AUTHORITIES as a strategy of harassment — creating an external punishment that penalises girls for and therefore discourages girls from fighting back. Sexual harassers are willing to use their greater share of floorspace to ask to get girls who won’t date them punished. By and large, teachers do punish those girls when they swear or hit. Schools condition girls to ignore sexual harassment by punishing them when they speak up or fight back instead.
Once the sexual harassers in my classes understood that girls wouldn’t be punished for rejecting them, they backed off around me. And there started to be a flip in what conversations I get called into — girls are telling me when boys are being nasty (too loud and dominant), instead of boys telling me when girls are being uncooperative (louder and more dominant than boys think they should be).
reblogging again for the wonderful commentary.