Sometimes I feel like Schrodinger's teacher. I'm both good, and bad, at teaching, and there's no way to figure out which it is.
We are beginning a unit by reading Susan B. Anthony's "On the Rights of Women to Vote," and I started it off with a video about Malala Youfsazai. Some of the kids knew who she was, but not many, so we watched it. Then I talked briefly about the history of restricting women's ability to go to school, and how in Saudi Arabia the issue is with women driving, and I got my students nodding their heads, because, yes, they have a grip on this whole thing, this Middle East woman problem, and then I said, "But since we tend to think of this as being a 'somewhere else' problem, this video is extra troubling." I then played the short video from UN Women with the Autocomplete ad campaign, where you type in "Women should not," "Women cannot," etc., and see what comes up.
Stunned silence. Kids whipping out their phones to test if it was really true. Taken aback when the same responses came up on their Autocompletes.
So then, great discussion about common arguments why women shouldn't vote from back in the day, and how they haven't gone away, simply morphed. I had a couple of boys asking if this was about hating men, so I transitioned into talking about oppressive gender roles for men and how it creates a repressed, screwed up society where both sides cannot win. Everyone was listening, everyone was into it. I urged them to watch Superbowl ads and bring me some examples Monday if they saw anything especially sexist.
So, Groupthink, I'm wondering if you can recall off the top of your head some headline pieces where typical anti-woman arguments were prominent, from recently. Like "women are irrational because hormones/periods," "women can't fight so therefore shouldn't be involved" or "women shouldn't fight because they're weaker," "women can't have it all because society/the family will crumble," "women taking the lead means men will die off/be emasculated," and ideally, maybe some links to examples of how women are penalized for being pretty and for being 'masculine' at the same time.
I know that's quite a list. I'll be looking for stuff myself this weekend. But I know you guys have a wide range of reading interests, so any links I get will be greatly appreciated!
Now that I've got my feminism excitement out of the way, I still feel like Schrodinger's teacher.
Admins asked me to begin administering mini-benchmarks every week to test over the objectives covered that week, since test scores aren't where they should be and they want to see documented proof that we're pushing, etc, etc. So, okay. We covered allegory, archetype, motif, symbolism, explicit/implicit theme, and irony. Cool. We covered them reading Susan Glaspell's "Trifles" (play version of "A Jury of her Peers"). Kids made a foldable where they defined the terms and had to find examples of each in the play.
So my thought is — okay, let's take those concepts and have them apply them in a different context, see if they stick. And I want it to be something short and simple, maybe familiar, but still encompassing the concepts. For some reason my mind goes to The Dark Knight and the scene where Alfred tells the story of the bandit. I combine two of the scenes — that one, and the one where Alfred explains how they caught the bandit — type out like a screenplay (because we've been working with drama) and write a series of questions about the use of irony, allegory, theme, symbolism, and archetype in the scene. Three page scene. But the questions are thinkers — not so difficult that they are over my kids' heads, at least I don't think so, but you do have to read them, read all the options and think critically. Nine questions total.
End of the day, I'm dropping Scantrons off to be read in the office, and I see my mentor teacher's mini-benchmark that she administered today. It's a runoff worksheet about "Trifles" that asks basic questions like "What did the women find in the box?" Maybe half were non-literal, interpretive questions. The rest are super simple.
Do I just overcomplicate things? I can see it now, being called into the office. "Well, Ms. MyDearPeabody, the other teachers did something academic and officially scholastic, whereas you wrote a needlessly complicated and challenging quiz about a scene from a comic book movie."
But how do you win that way? Giving kids low-level stuff like that just ensures that they get good grades, but it doesn't challenge them to really think. My kids probably aren't all going to get As on that quiz, but I made them think about it, right? And at least it was interesting? Right?
Or maybe I just think these things out too much, and don't know whether I'm in or out of the box.