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.

 

Is Having a Good Work Ethic Connected to Having a Good Work Environment?

woman holding paint brush
Photo by veerasak Piyawatanakul on Pexels.com

Research has demonstrated that employee’s who have a good working environment with proper benefits improve their productivity and get better results. However, what about research into working environments that are made a little too good? I know this will probably sound insane, but I think that if the working environment is too comfortable, productivity and work ethic can go down. I have one clear example of this.

In the UK, contracted employee’s get 25-26 days of mandatory leave plus holidays. They are allowed to call in sick and not lose pay or holiday days. They work decent regulated hours, and have huge levels of safety standards built in. All British residents get free health care, and if they lose their job they get government support. Maternity leave is usually about 6 months, father’s also get a bit of time off. Lastly, it isn’t easy to fire someone in the UK. You have to have a really good reason.
In the US employee’s aren’t so lucky. Maternity leave is 3 months, maximum. There are no paid sick days. If you are fortunate, you get a total of 10 days off work, plus holidays. Employers offer health insurance, but it will usually cost the employee an arm and a leg. Getting fired is easy, and if you want to claim unemployment, you can only do so for a maximum of 6 months and that is with a lot of paperwork involved. You are frequently expected to work a lot of overtime, without compensation.
Overall, the US work system isn’t the best. Especially with regards to time off and health benefits. However, I see a huge discrepancy between British work ethics and Americans. In America, people work hard at their job because they have no choice. If you slack, you are fired. And you have no government benefits to fall back on. Many people must work multiple jobs to make ends meet and cover all their expenses. In the UK, the government lends more of a helping hand. Rarely do people work multiple jobs in the UK. This is all fine until it leads to poor ethics in the workplace.
By being allowed to call in sick with no repercussion, I think it causes people to take advantage. I only call in ill if I am going to spread illness to others, or if I have a doctors note. I would say I take less than 5 sick days a year (usually). However, in Britain, I’ve seen people have more than a month off (with a doc note) and still keep their job and their pay! I truly believe this causes people to make every cold seem like a deadly virus. Furthermore, when you know your job is very protected, people get comfortable. They work slower, they don’t try as hard. Often it is in their benefit to work slower because they can get paid overtime.
In many ways as an American I am grateful for the good working environment in the UK. However, I treat my job as if it was in the US, which means I respect it. I believe American’s have been forced to have good work ethics. . Working in the UK is nice, but I think that the British have a poor work ethic because of it. There are other countries that have achieved a happier balance. In Japan, employee’s are expected to work upwards of 50 or 60 hours a week. But, they get extremely good salaries and built in company benefits. In Turkey they also work around 45 to 50 hours a week, but they get 20-30 days off and public health care. America needs a better work environment, and the UK needs to develop a way to keep employee’s incentivized to continue to maintain good work ethics.