The Divine Miss M
I don’t mean Better Midler. I mean myself. I’m talking about myself until I make it into the activism bigtime. I am on a mission to become The Divine Miss M.
Here’s the deal. I’ve known what I wanted to do since I was about 15 years old. I’ve known that I want to feminist, and yes, I use that word as a verb, for about 6 years now. I’ve BEEN feministing since about the same time at least in some capacity. However, a terrible recession and some financial limitations mean that I’m going to have to put that goal off for a little bit of time now. So what am I doing in the meantime?
I’m in school to become an elementary school teacher. The challenge now is one I’ve never faced before. I’m used to knowing exactly how to feminist in almost every situation. I’ve written at length about pop culture, abortion rights, violence against women, racism in the media (and in politics, especially of late), LGBT rights, etc. etc.
But I’ve never written about pedagogy. It just wasn’t on my radar. So now I’m in my classes and I’m listening to all of this advice on how to teach, and I’m wondering how to convert it into a feminist pedagogy that someone as young as five can understand.
Right now I’m interning in a kindergarten class. Fortunately for me, I am actually in a good spot to be able to develop a feminist pedagogy for young chillen. My cooperating classroom teacher (CCT) is a pretty laid-back guy (a diversion from the norm in itself), so I’ve been able to develop a sense of myself as a teacher. I think this is important, because when I went into this teaching gig I didn’t want it to just be a way to make money until I possibly get a job in a feminist non-profit. Granted, if I were to be offered a position right now as I’m sitting here typing this blog post (hint hint, anybody?), I would probably leave this teacher program. My heart really does lie in activism, community organizing, and political engagement. Still, while I’m here, I want to do the best I can by these kids and by the society they’ll eventually grow up to lead and become members of.
So that means I need to develop a feminist pedagogy that can apply to young children and that won’t get me fired from the school system. I have a feeling that I’m going to revisit this topic a lot on this blog.
As it stands right now, my class really doesn’t exhibit any problematic behavior. I’ve heard horror stories from my fellow classmates about kids in kindergarten and first grade yelling racial epithets across the schoolyard or telling an African-American principal that they won’t comply because they “don’t like black people”. My class does not do any of this. My school is tiny and in its own little as-progressive-as-a-school-can-be world.
Can I still see some problems, though? Yeah. Every girl’s backpack is still pink. I still feel like we’re using the banking system of education. I’m treading lightly right now regarding Native American representation in my lesson plans about Thanksgiving.
This program has really helped me grow as a feminist even as it’s tried to stifle it right out of me. It’s helped me to see the subtle ways that our patriarchal system works, even as young as kindergarten. Hey, it’s time to get up to pledge allegiance to a piece of cloth now, even while none of you little ones know the atrocities that some people have committed in the name of it.
It’s a lot to think about. My goal is to become what I have termed The Divine Miss M by the time I’m out of this program (so I have until the end of next summer). The Divine Miss M is the quintessential feminist teacher, hence why she is divine. I still feel like I’m clueless about how to get there, but as with so many other things, I imagine the journey itself will show me the way eventually.
What do you think a feminist pedagogy for young children would look like?