Brighten Youth Education Centre

 

 

 

It’s one of the most complex subjects we can teach our children, but it’s also one of the most important. Gender equality, consent and the formation of healthy relationships are subjects that should be embedded within the curriculum at all schools from the earliest age groups. It’s one of the ways we can continue to manage numerous challenges, including sexual harassment, gendered violence and position of women in the workplace. Yet thought-provoking subject matter requires support and innovative teacher strategies, so this week we’ve included some practical resources and strategies to help at home or in the classroom.

To get started, UNICEF produces a large amount of online resources and lesson plans from kindergarten to grade 12, with related articles, video and audio content (https://teachunicef.org/teaching-materials/topic/gender-equality). The Guardian’s Teacher Network is similarly stuffed with useful links and advice (https://www.theguardian.com/teacher-network/2016/jan/11/how-to-teach-feminism-gender-equality). The Teaching Tolerance blog advertises itself as a space where educators who care about equality and justice can share ideas and resources about how to teach a range of sensitive topics (http://www.tolerance.org/category/classroom-resources/gender-equity). Equally useful material is available from the Centre for Teaching Excellence at the University of Virginia, where the focus is on teaching a diverse student body and the exciting challenges this can present (http://cte.virginia.edu/resources/teaching-a-diverse-student-body-practical-strategies-for-enhancing-our-students-learning/gender-dynamics-in-the-classroom/teaching-to-promote-gender-equality/).

For a more specific approach, Agenda is an online toolkit produced by Cardiff University, various Welsh women’s and children’s charities and the Welsh government (http://www.childcomwales.org.uk/publications/agenda/). It aims to challenge negative attitudes in secondary schools through arts and crafts. This approach aims to remove some of the pressure from teaching serious issues while also making it fun. Educators can also get advice from targeted charities, including Fearless Futures (http://www.fearlessfutures.org/), a British charity that focuses on in school programs. However, they also post useful ideas on resources on their website, and signing up for their free online newsletter is also a helpful option. The Great Initiative (http://www.thegreatinitiative.org.uk/) is another UK-based charity, but one that works with boys aged 12-18. They run numerous initiatives, including programs that challenge male stereotypes and commit to gender equality. Their website contains advice for educators and parents organised around their various projects.

The job of education is not to simply coach students in how to pass exams, it’s to impart a working knowledge of the world, and develop the cognitive abilities of the individual, allowing them to assess future challenges. This still, sadly, includes a gender gap that should be contested at every opportunity. Students should also be taught to assess and challenge current social norms, allowing reform and progression. Outlining the issues faced by different genders, or different minorities, foster the development of empathy and compassion. Boys are a lot less likely to catcall girls after they’ve heard friends and contemporaries explain how hurtful this is. The gender revolution is ongoing, and begins with the individual.

 

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