On Women and Teacher Voice [Video + Commentary]

Jose VilsonJose, Video7 Comments

Before people ask me where my Women’s History Month post went, I decided to get a rant in about women and education. Particularly, I wonder why teachers’ voices don’t get the same consideration others do about K-12 education. I had more to say, but I’ll wait until I read up a bit more about my theorems.

Responsible bloggers do that. In the meantime, enjoy!

Mr. Vilson, who enjoys vlogging in his Jeremy Lin jersey …

Comments 7

  1. Misogyny drives so much in our society, and to my mind pretty clearly affects the low esteem in which much of society holds teachers as well as how that level of respect is reflected in salary. One thinks of the obnoxious interlocutor in Taylor Mali’s “What Teachers Make” who acts as though salary is a measure of your worth as a person. Real people really do feel that way, too. Some, anyway.

    I think misogyny is also somehow connected to why we value children in practice much less than we do in theory… if women are primarily in charge of children, as has traditionally been true for many and as some still believe, than that world too must be less important than Man World (and non-women who spend time with children suspiciously “feminine”). (barf) Here, I think of the obnoxious bosses in “Kramer vs. Kramer” and “Parenthood” who glorify men who neglect their families because they’re animals who put in the time and sweat equity to “succeed.”

    Hmm, I’m verging on getting rant-y here, aren’t I? Backing off a little…

    I love the idea of saying “This is what we as teachers can do,” not just because it helps get past misogyny but also because it embraces gender diversity beyond just a duality of women and men. Raising voice, seizing power, telling our stories. That is likely to help us get somewhere.

  2. One of the things I’m working on is finding a way to bring interpersonal neurobiological concepts into the classroom. Amongst other things, stress and emotion can block the encoding of working memory, interfere with attention, and mess up executive functioning processes. All of these things are the secondary skills our students need to learn the basic academic skills of reading, writing and arithmetic. As a special education teacher, I see a lot of learning disabilities tied into working memory and processing deficits. However, thinking about this stuff is thinking about “soft skills” and not necessarily content area strategies, which means it’s a hard sell to my colleagues.

    Especially since the only other women teachers in my middle school are the 1.5 FTE 6th grade teachers–the 7/8 content area teachers (Humanities, Math, Science, PE/Health) are male. Getting the guys to focus on these soft skills is a very hard sell.

  3. Thanks, Ariel! I’m looking forward to that response to which you were referring earlier. :-)

    Joyce, I’ve been privileged to work in a school where so-called “soft” skills aren’t really a hard sell. I think part of that is that we try to base what we do on AMLE’s “This We Believe” which is pretty explicit about the inter-relatedness of affect and cognition. Basically, we take it as a given that if there are relationship or other major emotional issues in the classroom, not much learning is happening anyway. So it benefits the kids’ skills both social and academic to back off from content and focus for a bit on working through whatever issues exist. I don’t know whether that concept might help in your school. By the way, for what it’s worth, our core team had more men than women during the period when we developed this approach.

  4. In some southern states, 85% of K-12 teachers are female. It’s no secret why it’s an easy population to intimidate. We’re so far from “balance” in diversity of voice and capacity in education reform–and we’re growing increasingly unbalanced, in terms of male/female power relationships–that we can’t see any real solutions.

    Yes, I know many kind and thoughtful male K-12 teachers who agree. But they’re not the ones calling the shots.

Leave a Reply