My class has recently begun to investigate women for women’s history month. As a teacher, much of what I do is based on my own experiences as a student as well as my professional training and work experience. One topic of importance to me is choice. As a student the ability to choose was huge for me. A teacher being interested in my thoughts was important. I did my best in those sort of student centered classrooms. As a result I often ask my students for their opinions and their thoughts on what we study, and take those into consideration when planning. I have always preferred democracy in my room, but it certainly isn’t a pure democracy. I am the teacher and I have to decide on what is best for my students even if it goes against the popular opinion of the class. It would be foolish of me to do whatever they want to do, as clearly not ALL ideas from 9 year olds are the best ones.
So here we are on the subject of women’s history, and like I typically do, I allow my students to choose, after a class discussion on the topic and a couple of Brain Pop videos to give them ideas. I was immediately bombarded with requests for Ariana Grande, Taylor Swift, Zendaya, Becky G, Jessie J…and I was immediately concerned. My knee jerk reaction was to not allow those and I did reject only one (Nicki Minaj) because I felt she would pose content that may be inappropriate for children. On the whole I was conflicted about it considering contemporary entertainers. It is false to think that only women from the past who have made social change in some way are the only ones worth studying. Entertainers have done many great things and I did not want to rule them out. At the same time I wanted to be sure my students had a subject who would have published material about her life and her accomplishments. I ruled out a few others who, while I did not recognize their names (and I am pretty hip for an old lady) a brief search did not provide much detail on them.
The theme of Women’s History Month 2015 is “Weaving the Story of Women’s Lives.” Students need to recognize a woman’s contributions to the past or present. That is pretty broad. We are in the beginning research phases of this project and I have already had some students change their subject, mainly because they could not locate enough information on the person to complete the planner I had given them.
At the moment we still have a rather interesting combination of women, that include Katy Perry, Oprah Winfrey, Michelle Obama, Helen Keller, Hillary Clinton, Danica Patrick, Judy Blume, and Eva Peron. I enjoy supporting the choice of my students and I am looking forward to their writing and projects.