New Series on the Impact of Teaching and Learning Feminism(s) in High School

This week I am launching an ongoing series of guest posts from former students reflecting on their experience of learning feminism(s) in high school. The inspiration for this series came from my students, who each day teach me that they too want to be a part of feminism as activists, artists, and academics.

When I founded this blog at the close of 2009, I wanted to begin a conversation with feminist educators in K-12 schools about the work they do in their classrooms as feminists. Within a month of starting the blog, I posted a letter that a student of mine had written to President Obama calling for implementing a feminist curriculum in our K-12 classrooms.

My student’s letter created a response from a variety of bloggers, including a post at Feministing by Courtney Martin and one from Anna North at Jezebel. Needless to say, I was honored by this affirmation of my student’s call to action and my work as a feminist educator.

But even with that wonderful response, I still wondered: Am I making a difference in my students’ lives? Is learning feminism in high school making an impact? And if so, would the voices of my students inspire other educators to make change in their classroom and in their schools? Continue reading

What My School is Reading This Summer

The faculty at my school recommend book circle selections as part of our annual summer reading tradition (photo courtesy: Laura Hahn, LREI).

At the school where I teach, there are two summer reading requirements: one for English class and one for our school-wide book circles.

The first requirement is for our ninth and tenth grade yearlong courses. For students entering our ninth grade World Voices course, Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi, is required.  For sophomores entering our American Dreams, American Experiences course, students read Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried.

The second requirement is my favorite. All of our high school students select another book based on faculty recommendations. Each fall, the entire faculty—yes, that includes science, math, history, English, foreign language, art, music dance, theatre, technology and media teachers—leads a book circle discussion with students who selected the book that teacher recommended. Selections are presented during an assembly in the late spring just before students head off for the summer. Continue reading

Letter to Obama: A Call for Teaching Feminism in K-12 Classrooms

Emily Heroy’s post at Equality 101 about the call to teach feminism in high schools in the US reminds me of an assignment I gave to students last year in my course on feminism to high school juniors and seniors titled Fierce and Fabulous: Feminist Women Writers, Artists, and Activists.

In the wake of excitement after Obama’s inauguration, I asked students to write a letter to our new President asking him to examine the issue of gender and education with a critical eye on the ways in which feminism might be addressed in the curriculum. All of the letters, 11 total (8 by girls, 3 by boys), were fantastic. Here’s one from an African American female student that captures the urgency of teaching issues of gender and feminism in K-12 classrooms: Continue reading