WomenEd Blogs

How I Will Never Let A Single Girl Get Lost On My Watch!


by Annelouise Jordan @Leazy84  Based on @WomenEdBookClub discussion.

The Lost Girls, by Charlotte M. Woolley, truly redefined me as a teacher and, when I say redefined, I truly mean it.

Fact - science is sexist. Charlotte writes about the sexism found in science with reference to the ‘scientific evidence’ published in typical women’s magazines such as ‘Playboy’ with the headlines ‘Do men cheat on their women? The science says yes!’ So if science is sexist then so are we, most of us rely on science, we listen to the scientists, government advisors link closely with scientists. This therefore is extremely damaging to society and even us as educators.To know it is sexist automatically made me think to myself, am I really certain of the things I believe to be true?

'If Women are expected to do the same work as men, we must teach them the same things'.Plato

Fact - girls and boys are socialised to behave in a certain way: This takes me to the classroom and to me as a teacher. I am a feminist and, I thought, a pretty good one. That being said the first chapter discusses the way girls behave and the way they achieve and even the way they are seen by educators. There are the ‘nice girls’ and the ‘good girls’ in our classrooms and this is where I stopped in my tracks. Charlotte writes about the girls who help out, who are responsible and who WE use to sort out our somewhat failing behaviour system. I know now that I am guilty of using them to my advantage. I sat them with the ones who misbehaved and I very rarely gave them the credit they deserved because it was expected. Then comes the the second hard blow, I know I have praised the ‘good boy’ and the ‘nice boy’ because I know it is a behaviour that needs to be encouraged, especially in boys. I want to socialise boys into being responsible and organised and helpful but in doing this I am failing the girls.

'Teach her that the idea of ‘gender roles’ is absolute nonsense. Do not ever tell her that she should or should not do something because she is a girl. ‘Because you are a girl’ is never a reason for anything. Ever.' - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

This book contains an abundance of quotes from a wide range of people put there to make you think and reflect before you start reading each chapter. Before I started reading what Charlotte had to say I stopped and I thought for a minute if I myself had ever said, heard or believed any of these judgements and why. The one above is particularly powerful as Charlotte describes in the chapter ‘Exploring the Curriculum’. I asked myself, when have I ever told girls they can’t do something because they are girls and thankfully I realised I hadn’t, ever! I had only ever told them that segregation exists, that they are not allowed to compete against men and as they move into secondary they will be separated from the boys for PE. The shock they have when they hear this ‘But why? Aren’t we good enough?’

This is what we need to tackle, we need to stop separating girls, stop stunting their intellectual and physical growth by giving them a iron ceiling that they should not be trying to break. Through my own curriculum planning and leadership I will make sure that these conversation are had. I will make sure there is full access to female literature, no separate PE lessons and give them the platform to use their voice. My future girls will have a pride of place in my School Councils, Debating Societies, Eco Councils, Peer Mentoring. You name it! It will never happen again that I accept the nice girls just ‘get on with things’ or allow girls to ever feel that they cannot do as well as their male peers. Not on my watch! Thanks Charlotte for the inspiration, I needed it!

‘The Lost Girls’ - By Charlotte M. Wooley @miss_tiggr, charlotteunsworth.com

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Monday, 28 November 2022

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