Tag education

2 posts

In which my genitals mean I don't learn math or science

Alright, you have my attention. Anyone who can wield a soldering iron like that is worth some attention. […]

youtube commenter (comment since removed by author – creepy part, also removed…by me)

I was denied physics because I was born female. I had been taught all my life leading up to that point that girls don’t use power tools, that girls don’t build, that girls can’t understand higher math, that girls can’t hammer straight, that girls can’t and don’t understand science or engineering, and that all of those things are for boys.

So when we moved and joined science olympiad and I was partnered with people who needed partners, and one of them was a dude and our project was to make an egg-car thing and get the egg to go so far and hit a tiny wall without breaking, I was unable to assert myself. I was told to sit on the sidelines because this was boy stuff, all the boys – my dad, brother, grandpa, and my partner, took over the project while I was a mere bystander.

Anytime I did try to help, I was laughed at and ridiculed because I couldn’t hammer a nail straight – because I was never allowed to build – my entire life, I was never allowed to build – I could hammer a nail into a wall to hang something, but not into two pieces of wood, that was boy stuff. They took my inability as an excuse to continue to take over the project and leave me out of it.

My job, in my science project was to put the rubber bands on the plexiglass wheels that the boys decided were best, and load the weights into the pulley that held the car-holder door shut and released the car/opened the door when it dropped (because weight). The only enjoyment I had was to call them tiny footballs because they were fishing weights and looked like footballs and everyone ridiculed me for that. I was so devastated about the entire project that I was just like, THIS IS THE ONE JOY I HAVE OKAY, LET ME CALL THEM THAT.

It was horrible. The entire time no one bothered to give me anything but cursory detail about what they were doing or how it worked. No one bothered to teach me physics, because I was a girl and wouldn’t need to know anyway, I was just there so my partner could enter. No one taught me the math or told me about the calculations or why they decided on plexiglass wheels and a twist system besides “this would work best because you (not me, my partner) can calculate how many turns you need for the distance”.

My entire life I have been afraid of power tools and under the impression that I would never be able to use them effectively because of my genitalia (like a vagina is power tool kryptonite). I was convinced that somehow something world ending would happen were I to try – or maybe not world ending, but it at least would break and not work. I was never allowed to touch anything, only told to stay away, barely allowed to watch, never taught.

I am angry that because I was born in this body I was not allowed to learn how to build, to learn about physics, but instead I was only told I was bad at it and ridiculed every time I made the slightest attempt to understand.
I would never need to know these things to be a wife and mother, so why bother wasting the energy, right?

Sexism and gender roles ruined my math and science education – they denied me either, and instead lied to me, tying my mental ability to my genitalia, and my life’s purpose to bodily functions. 

This is why building ikea furniture, and houses in minecraft, and learning how to solder, and making little electronics work is so huge to me.
This is me standing up against my parents – who were my teachers – and learning SCIENCE because I CAN, because it is WORTH LEARNING, because I am SMART and I HAVE ALWAYS LOVED SCIENCE and was never allowed to try, never given the math skills or the time of day to learn it because I was told my entire life it was pointless for ME to learn it. I was relegated to the sidelines when I was supposed to be being educated, but I’m not anymore.

I am building things and I am soldering and I am damn good at it. 
I hate it when I’m made out to be magical because I both have boobs and enough dexterity to solder. It’s not magic, I am not a unicorn, and thinking that it’s somehow remarkable for a person with female genitalia to hold a soldering iron is sexist. It’s the same kind of sexism that kept me from learning math and science in high school, and it is not okay.

Go ahead and be impressed that I can do things, but be impressed because I’m fighting against my past, because I’m carving my way out of the cage my parents tried to place me in, not because I have boobs and dexterity.
Fuck the Patriarchy.

The Burden of Home-school Parents

I’m not a parent, but as an early-graduate home-school alumnus, and one who did a lot of teaching to my younger siblings, I think that I can be afforded some room for an opinion. I was thinking the other day about graduating and how it felt then verses how it feels now. Honestly, I was not ready to graduate when I did. But I thought I was, at the time, when I was 15. I believed my mom when she said she’d taught me everything I needed to know school-wise and was prepared for the world beyond high school. In my (and my mom’s) defense, I did end up graduating with 30-some high school credits, but we opted out of higher math (and by extension, higher science like Chemistry 2, which was replaced with basic nutrition and physical education dvd courses) – my fault, because I couldn’t find anyone to teach me algebra in a way I understood. My parents didn’t have the time (too many other people to school), and my grandfather, who has a math degree, was just way above my comprehension level on the subject.
This lead to years later (i.e. now) my feeling inadequate when it comes to math, higher education, and simple SAT tests. Last year, I took the SAT’s, and naturally (for me) did well on verbal/writing/reading sections, and scored just above the minimum in math. There were things on the test I’d never even seen in high school – because I never got that far, and went for consumer math instead (give me fractions any day). When I was in high-school I was relieved to have a basic life-math that I understood taking place of algebra, which was a constant thorn in my side and the cause of many tears and frustration.  But…..that wasn’t what was best for me. I didn’t know that. My frustrated mother didn’t have time, and was just as happy as I was to find a substitute that I could do by myself like the rest of my subjects.
Aside from that I feel like I got a pretty decent (tailored) education. I think something that many home-school parents don’t consider is that their children trust them implicitly, beyond their public/private/charter schooled counterparts. Not only do we trust them to take care of us, love us, and provide for us, but we trust them to know what’s best for us and what we need academically. We trust them to give us a *better* education than the system, because, at least, that’s the message preached in the homeschool community.
However, “the education system” that home-schoolers avoid have more teachers, assigned to specific subjects that they know about/have degrees in. The students there have the responsibility to learn – much like home-schooled students. The difference is, the parents have the job of all the different teachers, yet often without the education. In the name of “tailored” education often leave parts of education that seem “unnecessary” out of their child’s curriculum, even skipping basic things (like algebra). Home-schooled kids learn what their parents teach them, and other subjects that are left out, they’re none the wiser about. Until they get older.
It’s a sad feeling when you realize the people you thought were giving you “the best education” ended up leaving you feeling inadequate and behind because they failed to teach you something necessary – whether that be math, spelling, language, or even basic sex education (evil of evils) because you didn’t seem to “get it” and they were trying to prepare you for <insert choice path here>.
I’m not against tailored education at all, however, I don’t think that other, necessary, subjects can/should be eliminated in the name of “you’re going to be a wife/mother you don’t need algebra” or “you don’t need to learn a language you’re going into trade” essentially, in the name of “I don’t think it’s necessary”. School standards are there for a reason whether we agree with them or not. The beauty of home-schooling is not in all that you can leave out, but all that you can let in, and the flexibility of tutoring to specific learning styles.   The appeal of homeschooling is not “graduate your kid at 16 regardless so s/he can help with the rest of your clan” but that it’s not a one-size-fits-all standard that we hear so much about in schools.
I feel like parents get caught up in the idea that they can choose what their kids know that they miss the heavy burden that lays on their shoulders – the burden to do as good, or better, than the dozens of teachers in school every day. These parents, or in most cases, one parent, has a huge responsibility to their child’s education when they decide to take it on themselves. Especially if they live in a place without, or opt out of home-school groups or co-ops that provide opportunities for kids to learn things their parents may be lacking in from another parent who’s strong in the subject. Admittedly, home-school curriculums have been getting better with DVD/computer courses and labs for various subjects (how I got through biology without a lab, and prepped for the SAT) and those are helpful, but don’t take the place of learning from other real-life people.
I guess, if I were to mention one thing that might help….I’d say try to prepare your child to get into an ivy league, like Harvard, MIT, or some such, regardless of if they’ll go or not, but meet those educational standards. Then add whatever your child is interested in to their education – be it the arts, electronics and engineering, computer programming, or what have you. Allow them opportunities to learn about what they’re interested in without neglecting staples like spelling, language arts, higher maths and sciences, history, and even foreign language.  Also, teach your child to their learning style – I learned best with a group, and my best high-school experiences were in our co-op with other parent teacher’s who’d grade my work and were strong in their subjects. Some of my siblings prefer one-on-one mom time and learn better that way.
The other thing I want to say, is don’t be ashamed to find a class or teacher, or even send your child to a school if you aren’t equipped to teach how or what they need to be taught. I know most home-school parents and philosopher’s disagree, because the school system is the “big bad”, but honestly, you’re a parent and you need to do what’s right by your kid, even if that means you can’t teach them at home. There’s no shame in that – I dare say that’s better parenting than people who home-school regardless of the fact that they aren’t able to meet their kid’s educational needs simply because they’re so scared of “the system”.