Dr. Richard Weissbourd opened his talk on “Raising Caring and Happy Children in a Challenging Time” by stating his primary worry is how we’ve elevated happiness and success and de-emphasized caring and empathy. When students were asked on a survey how important achievement, caring, and happiness were to them, about 50% prioritized achievement, 30% happiness, and 20% caring. Parents say they value caring over achievement but when their children were asked to rate their priorities, the kids felt their parents had the same breakdown of priorities as they did. Furthermore, when asked to rate parents as a group, parents themselves came up yet again with a similar breakdown except with some shift from caring to happiness. This disjunction between what parents say they believe and what kids (and other parents) perceive results from what Dr. Weissbourd calls the “rhetoric reality gap.”
by Karen Suchenski
It is early morning and the start of the final leg of our journey home from Hong Kong to the US and back to SBS classrooms. Claire and I take one last fast-paced walk in an elongated terminal of Beijing International Capital Airport, a vast facility sprawling across 3,700 acres. We relish this movement, weaving in among chrome-countered duty-free shops, for we anticipate 13 hours of cramped encampment in an Air China economy-class cabin where we will be folded and as tightly packed, passenger-to-passenger, in our row of seats as are multiple layers of wafers in a Hong Kong favorite cookie. We arrive at the gate for final boarding and bear one more security check.
“Have travel boarding passes ready please,” the sign translates the Chinese characters for us. I hand my pass to the attendant. She scans it and looks up at me as if confused. She pauses and speaks halting English as she crosses off my pass information and adds new numbers.
“You’re not wearing a blue shirt.” The comment, coming from a Junior in her own blue shirt, was something of a test, and I got partial credit by cringing and saying, “Oh, no! I totally forgot!” At least my response showed I knew that wearing a blue shirt on that particular Monday was meant to draw attention to National Bullying Prevention Month. I did manage to wear purple on GLAAD Spirit Day to take “a stand against bullying and show [my] support for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) youth” (GLAAD), and kept a blue pinky for a week in response to a tweet by @beinggirl; my photo even earned a retweet from the “Secret Mean Stinks” campaign, among others.
For the Humanities 7 unit on “Why do people judge other people and themselves?” one of my students did her individual Focus Question work on bullying. She designed her presentation as much to stimulate conversation as to present information, and she succeeded admirably: the discussion lasted over 45 minutes and might have continued even longer if class hadn’t ended. The students were not without empathy for bullies, coming quickly to general agreement that often, they simply didn’t know better because that was how they were treated, or perhaps they had deep-seated issues of their own and the bullying had nothing to do with the actual victims.
I try to be on the lookout for chances to react to blogs, knowing (as Bill Ferriter has pointed out on more than one occasion) that one of the highest compliments I can pay a blogger is to leave a comment or even write a whole new blog in reaction, thus showing how much of an impression they’ve left on me. So when Brianna Crowley opened one of her blogs at the Center for Teaching Quality with a writing prompt from a 30-day blogging challenge for teachers, the temptation to write my own blog based on the same prompt was strong.
Until I really absorbed the prompt: “Write about one of your biggest accomplishments in your teaching that no one knows about (or may not care).”
Maybe it’s because I was on vacation, but the news that “there’s even a gender wage gap in babysitting” (Maya) saddened me but didn’t outrage me. I suppose it’s also because it was simply too easy to assimilate it into my existing body of knowledge: how women right out of college earn less than men, how men earn more than women even in so-called “feminized” professions, how the gender wage gap exists not just at a national level but also within all racial groups (granting that white women earn more than men of some other racial groups), how… how? How? HOW?!
Today, at any rate, school is in session, and I was beyond outraged to learn there is a gender wage gap in allowances.
As an option for weekend activities, I offered to take students to a GLSEN conference on April 5. (GLSEN is the Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network.) Unfortunately, two of them ended up with conflicts, but the third student cheerfully said she would still like to go, and so we headed east to Madison Park Vocational Technical High School in Roxbury. After passing through the metal detector for “males,” an extremely un-GLSEN moment all around (though I don’t think it was switched on), and stopping at the registration table, we walked up the stairs to the opening celebration, where we were enthusiastically welcomed by three cheerleaders of various genders.
Eliza Byard, the Executive Director of GLSEN, welcomed all of us and spoke movingly of the experience of speaking (for two minutes, precisely timed by the TelePrompter) at the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington. Given that Bayard Rustin, one of the organizers of the March who also served as a speaker, had been excluded from a meeting with President Kennedy out of the fear that J. Edgar Hoover, the homophobic Director of the FBI, might be upset, Ms. Byard’s participation was all the more moving.
“When a little boy asserts himself, he's called a ‘leader.’ Yet when a little girl does the same, she risks being branded ‘bossy.’” So begins the website at http://banbossy.com/, a new organization co-founded by Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean-In Foundation and the Girl Scouts of America. The website points out that girls’ self-esteem drops 3.5 times more than boy’s from elementary to high school, that girls are twice as likely as boys to worry about being called “bossy,” and girls are still called on less and interrupted more in class. (Ban Bossy) There’s no question that we need to do something about that, and there’s no question we know some of the things that work.
On the Girl Scouts’ website, for example, they share the results of a study done in 2008 that showed the following (Girl Scouts):
- Girls, even at a very young age, have definite ideas about what it means and takes to be a leader.
- Promoting leadership in girls is primarily a matter of fostering their self-confidence and providing supportive environments in which to acquire leadership experience.
- To be relevant to and successful with girls, a leadership program must address their aspirational or preferred definition of leadership, their need for emotional safety, and their desire for social and personal development.
- Girls have a range of “leadership identities,” from strong aspiration to outright rejection of the leadership role.
Filed Under: gender, All-Girls, gender stereotypes, intersectionality, The Girls School Advantage, On Education, anti-racism, social justice, Parenting, On Parenting, community, diversity, All Girls Education, Feminism, Women in media, girls' school, Current Events, gender activism, Education
To enter the toy section of virtually any major store these days, you’d almost think boys and girls were two different species, one of which apparently falls head-over-heels in love with anything pink. Or possibly purple. Yet, whatever sex-based differences may be present at birth and whatever gender-based differences may be acquired from birth on, such extreme gender segregation of toys is a relatively recent phenomenon. In fact, this iconic 1981 Lego ad makes it clear that 33 years ago, girls were perfectly happy to build with traditional Legos, and Lego was willing to advertise that fact.
To be fair, as was noted in an article in the Huffington Post, Judy Lotas, the creative director in charge of Lego’s ad campaign, had to fight to have Rachel Giordano (then age four) included. The mother of two daughters, she knew better when others argued that only boys like to build, and successfully stood her ground (further proof, by the way, that we need more women involved in advertising!). Ms. Giordano and other child models were given about an hour to play with Lego sets, and were then photographed holding their own creations. As it happens, those are also her own clothes (blue jeans and blue t-shirt) she wore in off the street. Maybe it’s that genuine quality that has helped this ad endure.
Filed Under: gender, All-Girls, gender stereotypes, The Girls School Advantage, social justice, Parenting, Girls Schools, All Girls Education, National Engineering Week, girls' school, Current Events, engineering
To evolve as humans, we must let go of behaviors and attitudes that hold the rest of humanity back. - Christy Turlington Burns, from the Introduction to the good mother myth, edited by Avital Norman Nathman.