Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Glass Ceiling

I didn't used to think glass ceilings really existed, but I think after today I might be a believer, at least in the world of social studies teachers.

I'm starting to notice many of my colleagues are male and coach very manly sports... not all, but many. Conversations in the lounge revolve around the stats and scores of the latest basketball game or wrestling meet. There is rarely discussion of teaching strategies, assessments or differentiated instruction. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but it feels to me like an exclusionary club.

Today I subbed for an english teacher, who team teaches an American Studies class with a history teacher. It is one of the positions I applied for last year, and did not get. I met the man who did get it. He is also a football and wrestling coach. I'm sure my impression was tinted green, but I was disappointed.

The class was studying the roaring twenties, and they were 2/3 of the way though F. Scott Fitzgerald's "The Great Gatsby". I went before school to discuss the lesson plan with him, and he asked me if I had ever read it, to which I said it's been a while, but I could brush up on it. I caught up to the class by the time his lecture began. I would have liked to see connection between the book and the events going on, especially discussion about women, culture, racism and post World War I angst. It was a nice powerpoint lecture, with embedded media of jazz performances, images of ads, and quotes and poetry. But there was no passion about the history, or how it relates to today. Instead, there were sports references, which lost about half the students.

He also provided a confusing and inaccurate definition of the glass ceiling for women. How appropriate, I thought. I could give a relevant example right now.

"Uh... what's your major? Mine's football..."

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