stereoTYPING: Blogging Toward Acceptance and Understanding

Happy Tuesday!

This post is a series of questions for other bloggers. I am giving a presentation next week at a local university regarding my experience with blogging about gender issues and how writing can deepen understandings and begin conversations.

So, my questions to you are:

  1. Why did you start blogging? (as opposed to a different form of writing) Why do you continue?
  2. Does your blog have a particular focus? (parenting, poetry, etc.) Why or why not?
  3. Do you read other blogs? If so, are they related to the writing you do on your own blog?
  4. Do you actively encourage comments/discussion on your blog? Do you comment on other blogs?
  5. Any other comments about blogging?

Please take a moment to think about and answer these questions if you have the time. I would really appreciate it. You can either write your answers in the comment section or contact me via email or twitter.

 judyamy74(at)gmail(dot)com                      @JudyAmy74

X is for X-Rated

It’s been a long time since I’ve worked on my alphabet series. W kind of took off, and then came X. I hate alphabet books because of the letter X. It’s always the same–xylophone, or for extremely lazy wordsmiths, it’s Xmas or something like that. I guess I’m an extremely lazy wordsmith, since I don’t really have a proper X word to write about either.

X is for X-rated. Pornography. It’s out there. Everywhere. It’s easier than ever to access, even if you’re not really looking for it. Google Traditional Folk Dances and you’ll see what I mean. Parents like to think that their children are protected from this sort of thing by putting parental controls on the computers and having the computers in a communal area of the home, but with over 80% of boys watching porn online by the time they’re 18, it’s hard to say “it’s not my kid”.¹ It’s pretty much everyone’s kids. Including our own.

I’ve been spending my free time today researching for this post by reading articles about teenagers and pornography, listening to radio programmes on the subject, and watching documentaries. It makes for a pretty depressing Friday night. And I still don’t even know where to begin. So here’s the deal:

Listen to the radio program, Ideas: Generation Porn to get a (mainly) male perspective on the subject.

If you are in Canada, watch the documentary, Sext up Kids to get a (mainly) female perspective on the subject. If you’re not in Canada, you can access a radio interview with the director.

And for god’s sake, talk to your kids. Honestly. Without shame. About real world sex.

Footnotes

1. Sext up kids. Dir. Maureen Palmer. Perf. Ann-Marie MacDonald. Media Education Foundation, 2012. Film.

Further Reading:

Telegraph Article on Better Sex Education

BBC Article on Pornography Education in Schools

CBC Sext Up Kids Documentary Facts and Resources

If you would like to contact me about this post or about anything else you’ve read please email me at: judyamy74(at)gmail(dot)com or tweet me @JudyAmy74

 

 

 

 

G is for Good Enough

As I sit and edit my resume
I take another look and wonder:
Is it
Good Enough?

Times have changed since the last time
I handed in a resume.
Last time, I chose thick, heavy paper–
Now I hit send.

Last time I
Dressed in my best suit
And combed my hair
To impress the person
Behind the desk.
Now I use words that I hope
Will catch the computer’s attention.
How can I be
Good enough
If I don’t know the
Right words for the program?

If you looked at me,
Gave me a chance to
Explain myself,
Just took a moment to
Talk to me
I might stand a chance
Of proving to you that
I am
Good enough.

More than
Good enough.
Really, really great actually.
But instead, you’d rather let your computer program
Decide on whether my words are
Chosen carefully enough
To pass the application screening.

So who will you get then?
Not me.
Someone who
Chose the right words.
Someone who knows how to navigate
Through inane on-line questionnaires
Whose answers reveal little (if any)
Depth or quality.
Someone who may be just
Good Enough.

(But then again
Might not.)

And where will I be?
I’ll be back at the computer
Wondering if I’ll ever be
Good enough
To figure out the right words
To say to your computer.

English: Program counter

English: Program counter (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Notes: Recently I filled out an on-line application form so that I could apply for some teaching positions within a school division. I was frustrated by the fact that when the drop down menu appeared for me to choose why I had left my previous jobs, there was no option for me to select Maternity Leave, which is the reason I left both of my teaching positions. The School Division’s website clearly stated: No cover letters. Resumes only. Without having a chance to market myself for the job and explain my absence from the classroom (let’s face it–I can’t stamp in red ink on the top of my resume: I am a mom of a 5 year old and two-year old twins and while awesome, also makes it hard to look for childcare and a job, hence the gap in my work experience) I felt my application and resume looked a bit weak. I found the experience to be really demoralizing. I know that I am a really great teacher and that I would bring experience and passion to any position, but I don’t think that’s evident just from looking at my resume.  And there’s really nothing I can do about it. Well, that’s not entirely true. I need to start networking more and figure out the buzz words I need for my resume to stand out. Sometimes I just wish interviews were granted based on something other than buzz words. I should also mention that I am not 100 years old and I don’t actually hate technology. Sometimes I just long for the days of human interaction.

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Shell Shock and Uncertainty

I had plans to write a different post today. Plans change. Today my friend sent me a newslink with a query–did this guy teach us? He looks familiar. My answer to her was yes–he taught us.

He only taught us for a brief term and I think it was Social Foundations of Education or something to that effect. He was a quiet lecturer, but interesting. I admired him, respected him, believed that he had ideas worth listening to. I was pleased to read comments on my assignments like “This is superior to the general level of papers I tend to get from Education students” He not only taught me to believe that change could happen within our school system, he made me believe that I could be part of that change. Like I said, I admired him.

I was not the only one who respected and admired him. He was well known internationally regarding Educational Reform and Educational Policy. I thought the link my friend had sent me might have something to do with his achievements. Not at all. The opposite.

He was arrested this morning on numerous child pornography charges.

I feel sick to my stomach. I feel angry and betrayed. I feel like I’ve been one of the world’s biggest dupes. Since I heard the news, I’ve been berating myself for having admired and respected this man–how could I not see that he was unworthy of this? What did that make me? Somehow I feel that by having appreciative and interested in his theories and ideas that I have been tacitly condoning this other side of him. Like somehow if I (and others) had only been able to see, it wouldn’t have happened–which is completely crazy, I know. I’m torn–is it possible to appreciate and respect one’s ideas and disregard the other aspects? This is what I am struggling with. Is it possible to separate all the good that he has done for Educational Reform and be appreciative of that while denouncing the other terrible things? Do I discount all I learned from him? I don’t know. I am still shell shocked.

 

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/university-of-toronto-professor-facing-child-pornography-charges/article13063793/

 

 

Play with Pre-Schoolers: Assignment Questions

How do early learning practitioners know if children are being adequately stimulated and challenged? I’m not at all sure of the answer to this question. I would think a good sign would be if the children seem engaged in the activities and are starting to stretch the boundaries of the activity to suit their curiosities and interests. Is it their sole responsibility? If so, why is that? If not, who is responsible for children being challenged, curious, and having the opportunity to participate in fantasy? It is definitely not the case of the teacher to be solely responsible for children to be adequately stimulated, engaged, and challenged. To use a cliche, it takes a village to raise a child. Parents, grandparents, teachers, neighbours,et al. all have a responsibility to challenge and engage the child.

These may seem like pat answers, but they are just the starting point of a conversation. Who is responsible for a child’s creative play and learning? (at any age) I think one mistake many parents make today is enrolling their children in several structured creative programs, at early ages.  Picking your child up from school and then shuttling them to many different types of activities to keep them engaged and challenged may not be the right answer. Kids need to play. Just play. There is nothing wrong with extra-curricular activities and programs. It’s just that it seems like too often we are trying to hard to engage our kids with structured activities when sometimes it’s okay to just let them roam around a park and pick up sticks. Nothing can replace play.

 

Questions From:

Dietze, B. (2012). Chapter 2: The Process of Play. Playing and learning in early childhood education (p. 39). Toronto: Pearson Canada.

Thinking Poetically

One of my assignments for my class (and the reason for starting this blog) is to work on a creative project and to track the experience in journal form. I decided to revisit my creative writing, specifically my poetry. In the last week or so, I have really started to work at this in earnest. My progress and the process is really fascinating to me. I feel as though I am seeing things poetically, feeling them poetically, and thinking about things poetically. My mind is whirling with words and images at all times of the day. This is what I have denied myself for so long–this chance to do something creative for me. When I was teaching, I often felt as though I was very creative with my students; however, more often than not, I would come home from work exhilarated but exhausted with no creative energy left for myself. My watercolours that I had begun to dabble in fell by the wayside as did my writing, except in the context of my class and my students. I felt as though I gave all of my creativity to my class and left my personal self empty. It was rewarding, but somewhat of a hollow reward. Now that I have had a few years away from the classroom I realize that perhaps I gave too much to my students. I wonder if creative teachers do manage to find balance, and if they do, how do they manage it?

Value: From the Creativity Wheel Questions

Make observations about value of others’ work and own work: How often do I pause to allow for time to discuss each other’s work and the child’s own? I try to build this into my writing time, but have to be honest, I haven’t really done it in terms of visual art. I’m not sure why not.

Overcome problems: In working on a project do I encourage children to solve problems themselves rather than solving it for them? I certainly hope so.

Reviews progress: In the course of a learning experience do I give children the time to stop and think, to discuss their progress with others, to express how well they think they are doing? I would have to say, probably not enough time. I think that part of this difficulty lies in the fact that I haven’t found a great solution that works with thirty 8year olds.

Uses and transfers previous knowledge: Do I observe children making use of learning in one area and applying it to another? Are there opportunities for this kind of transfer of knowledge in the way I teach? Do I make connections? I definitely think so to all of these questions. The difficulty  lies in making the connections authentic and not forced.