Monday, November 10, 2014

We're Doing It Wrong

I've been teaching in Bahrain for a wealthy children of royals.  It ironically turns out that this level of wealth has the exact same results as being poor.  The student apathy about homework and attendance.  The same attitude towards authority. The same immaturity. So I've been working with difficult students that are just as challenging as an inner-city urban school in the U.S.  However, though one set of students is unhappy because they only get parental attention from their nannies, the other is helping feed the family while trying to study. So after working with problem students, I've decided that a good class size should be around eight students. Six, if they're difficult. 
With that small of a group, everyone is focused, but the group is big enough to feel enough intellectual diversity to allow students to find their comfort zone and to get stimulation from their peers (no pun intended - that's a whole n'other set of discussions). However, the size of the class also allows the teacher enough time with each student that they really understand how each student learns and have the space to do that. 

So, and this is the important part:

It would eliminate many of the SPED, administration, and consulting jobs in school systems, freeing up funds to hire more teachers. And the teachers would feel less stressed because not only would there be more of them, creating a stronger support network and less hours, but the paperwork loss alone would allow for more hours a week to do their jobs of planning, grading, and teaching. And teachers would be better at their jobs because they'd have more classroom and creative energy to offer their schools. Which means less accreditation stress and homework for the staff. And student's scores would improve, so the school would get more funding from the government. Allowing them to hire more teachers. 
I think we're doing it wrong.

Sunday, January 19, 2014


So tonight at dinner, a Navy guy shared a Facebook post by an 18-year-old girl who suggested that military men should "put down the guns and pick up the medical bags, heal instead of kill."  Apparently, this is part of a series of posts by this girl.  I thought she made her points well.  

He wondered what she had against military men.

It was conjectured that she'd been dumped by one, and her continual anti-military posting was payback. In coded and loaded speech, another man upped the stakes with a comment about being raped by one.  Which was topped with the absolutely hilarious suggestion that she'd been gang raped by a whole ship on leave.

And the women said nothing.

Including me.

I wondered if I was the only one who understood what had just been said, or if all the women were so used to rape "jokes" that they started to believe they actually were jokes, albeit unfunny ones... but, you know, guy's jokes.

Or maybe they were like me... intimidated by history and the repeated societal refrain that the only good women are polite women.  Women who don't say, "Hey, jokes about gang rape aren't funny," or "Making jokes about a woman getting gang raped just because she doesn't like what you do for a living seems a bit over the top," or "Wow, you must really question what you do with the military, considering that some comments from an 18-year girl wishing for peace would elicit such  animosity that'd you suggest it is the equivalent to gang rape."

I thought a lot about my lack of response on the way home.  I'm usually the first to speak up in such situations.  In fact, I'd already called one guy on making both a racist and a sexist joke in the span of five minutes by joking that he must be in the military.  He said he resented that comment.  I said he resembled it.  

I was angry.

I was angry at these guys.  I was mad at military guys, military culture, rape culture, military rape culture, men in general... and me.

I was angry that I didn't speak up. Every time I allow rape culture to happen in my presence when I have the verbal control to stop it, I am culpable.  Every woman at the table was culpable for not doing what they could to prevent even one more woman in these guys' future from getting harassed, infantilized, objectified, and used.

And the one guy who didn't laugh and just looked down, he's culpable too.