I’m preparing for my summer graduate course on gender in K-12 education. You can check the course listing here if you’re curious. I never taught this course, totally new. Although, I taught a doctoral seminar when I was a graduate student specifically about male teachers and masculinity in education, which was new also.
I started a blog for the course that you can check out here. Not much to show for it yet as I’m currently building it. But I thought it would be an easier, more attractive, and more meaningful alternative to Blackboard or setting up a Wiki. The formats are not all that exciting or even very user-friendly. I mean, I guess you could protect privacy a bit more with a secure login, but that’s not even unique to those sites nowadays. So, my students and I will be using the space to post discussion articles and comments. We’ll see how it goes.
In any case, as I prepare for the course, I’ve put myself back into “gender mode,” so to speak. Now, I was warned some time ago that gender mode does not exist. Gender is everywhere and always should be part of the conversation. I agree with that, but one can become detached from the vocabularies and concepts consistent with gendered analyses. I tend to feel some sort of schematic shift when I get back into some readings.
I’ve been reading Judith Lorber’s Paradoxes of Gender as a sort of introductory installment on the topic for the students. Not too theoretical, pretty accessible. I encountered a great quote that reminds me of the implacable presence of gender in education:
When gender is a major component of structured inequality, the devalued genders have less power, prestige, and economic rewards than the valued genders. In countries that discourage gender discrimination, many major roles are still gendered; women still do most of the domestic labor and child rearing, even while doing full-time paid work; women and men are segregated on the job and each does work considered “appropriate”; women’s work is usually paid less than men’s work. Men dominate the positions of authority and leadership in government, the military, and the law; cultural productions, religions, and sports reflect men’s interests.
I do not doubt for a second that all of this “reform” discourse in education would be a whole helluva lot different if there were more men in the teaching profession. Blame teachers? Impossible.