How and Why You Should Teach Gender To Your Kids/Class

Gender picWhile teaching English this summer, I was fortunate enough to work for a company that had a spectacular text book. It encouraged open discussions in English, and didn’t just talk about the boring topics like shopping, movies, etc. My level 4 book had a section on gender issues. This is a subject I studied quite a bit at university, and follow in the news, but not one I have ever taught. So, I challenged myself to teach gender to students with English as a second language.

Hands down, this was one of the hardest subjects I have ever had to teach. Not because of a lack of knowledge, but because it involves such sensitive issues that society has coached us to not discuss publicly. Well, I did and it was the best class I have ever led.

I began by having the students create a list of issues related to gender, not only for women but men as well. Here are some things we came up with for men; custody rights, mental health stigma, body pressure, lack of support for sexual abuse, paternity leave, inability to cry. For women; pay gap, hormones being used as an excuse for feelings, maternity leave, pressure to find partners, tampon tax. This list is only a small sample of the massive ideas my students developed.

I then did something very controversial, I told my students I was going to make some statements that might be upsetting but I encouraged them to disagree with me. I said: Gay is against nature and wrong. Women are the lesser sex. Transgender/transsexual’s are just a mental disorder. The reactions I got were astounding. All of my students (even the quiet ones) got up in arms. They debated me, fought me. They spoke more in this class than in any other. They were understandably angry at my narrow minded statements, but it was only after we finished our discussion that I admitted that I didn’t agree with a word I said. I showed them how by phrasing things in that method got them to talk more than any other way could have.

Unfortunately, while teaching this subject, my boss overheard me. My company is very clear that they do not require me to give in lesson plans, and they do not censor what I teach. But, my boss did not like what I was saying or how I was saying it. He couldn’t tell me to stop, he had no authority to because our manager had already given me the Ok. So, instead, he pulled me aside and claimed I was “talking too much for an English class” and he refused to hear my explanation. Just because he didn’t like what I said, he literally told me to stop talking in class.

That is what our society does. If people don’t like what one person says, they make them be silent. Especially in regards to issues related to gender like LGBTQ+ rights or equality among the sexes. It makes people so uncomfortable! I felt uncomfortable discussing it, but I am glad I did. Because, I had multiple students write me thank you cards saying that my gender class was their favourite class of the summer. Many even said an adult had never talked to them about these issues, and they were grateful I did. It was wonderful for me to hear that, but also sad to know that 16 year old kids had never had someone discuss gender issues with them. These are vital to encourage a tolerant, accepting world. We need EDUCATION around this, and all issues, to ensure there is a better tomorrow.

 

How To Get The Chic French Fashion Look

20170509_203029As an ESL teacher, I work with all nationalities. I’ve recently begun to teach French students, both male and female. Everything the fashion magazines say about them is true, they are so stylish! Did I mention my students are 14?

They don’t wear a lot of accesories, or even wear a lot of labels. Honestly, they wear jeans and sweatshirts, or jeans and plain t-shirts. But somehow, they add little chic touches that turn an outfit that would look boring on me, into something that looks fashionable. For example, today one student was wearing mom jeans, and a very baggy t-shirt. Her hair was a mess, and her only accessory was a nose piercing. Yet somehow, it looked so cool!

Teaching these kids early in the morning, I can promise they put zero thought into their clothing. They do not think about their outfits, I don’t think the French style the conscious choice we non-French people assume. Rather, I think it is both bred, and SOLD into them. By this I mean, their parents dress in very simple, casual styles. So, they do too. And the stores in France sell more monochrome, structured, casual items. So, they buy them. I know this is true because I’ve shopped in French stores.

The whole nature vs nurture debate has established that who we are as people is molded by our parents and our environment. Applying that psychology to fashion, it means that the French teens wear the clothes sold in their shops and worn by their parents. Therefore, I purpose that French fashion is not a purposeful style. Rather, it is simply a look that is sold, and told to them.

This isn’t exclusive to France. In Washington, people wear a lot of North Face and polar fleece hoodies. Why? Because it is what the stores sell, and what parents tell you to wear to keep warm. In New York, stores sell edgy clothes, and parents tell their kids to dress in the latest NYC style. Breeding and location is what makes an intrinsic local style.

The French teens are chic casual because it is all they can know. So, I envy them a little less…but I also wish my stores sold me less bold prints and more perfect white tee’s.

What are your thoughts???