Friday, June 28, 2013

Book-Related Posts Moved to Book Blog

I think I have all of my book-related posts moved to the other blog.  They are probably somewhat out of chronological order, but I am not going to worry about that.  I will get them deleted out of this blog soon.  Three blogs:  book blog; education, social issues, serious stuff; less serious and more personal stuff.  There is some less serious stuff in this blog, especially older stuff, but I am not going to move it, since no one cares, except me, anyway. 

First in Line

I might as well say it:  I hate getting kids lined up to go somewhere like art or PE or lunch.  It takes way too much time and it seems demeaning to me.  Do adults line up to go somewhere?  Do we insist that they walk single file without talking?  Do the adults in the hall avoid talking when they pass rooms with their doors open?  No, no, and definitely not.  Yes, I understand that we want to avoid clogging up the halls, when many classes are moving around, and lines do help.  But I really don't like them.

And furthermore, I especially don't like the fact that kids actually fight over who gets to be first in line and who gets to be in front of whom.  "She cut in line", "You can't save places in line!", "No frontsies", etc.  Why is it that kids, almost universally want to be first in line? or ahead in line?  I can understand why adults want to be first to get on the airplane - so that they get prime luggage storage space and so that they don't have to force their way past cramped seating crowded with people.  But what is it that kids are fighting for?  Being first in line conveys no extra privilege.  It doesn't raise them in the esteem of their teachers or their peers.

To be fair, not all of the kids want to be ahead in a line.  There are those who prefer the end of the line, especially if the teacher walks at the front.  They can get away with more at the end of the line.  And there are a few, usually the more passive kids with fewer friends, who don't seem to care (but, even so I wonder if that is just a front).

So the question remains, what is it about those stupid lines that is of such social/psychological significance?  Over and over again. 

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Mansplaining to a Sub

The tendency of some men to mistakenly believe that they automatically know more about any given topic than does a woman and who, consequently, proceed to explain to her- correctly or not- things that she already knows.

Woman A: When he started mansplaining to me what it really meant to be a woman in the 21st century, I got up and left.

In a recent discussion on Facebook, there were a lot of comments about mansplaining - where men would explain something technical to a woman who was an expert in the area, even in spite of knowing that she was an expert.  I mentioned that this seems to me to be a more specific example of what I might call "downsplaining" - explaining to someone who may or may not be an expert in the area something that the explainer feels he or she should also be an expert in, just to demonstrate his or her expertise.  This post is a musing on that idea and is still a "thought in progress". 

Some examples:  when I am subbing, I often get called for jobs for either a half day or for days where the teacher is in the building, but is working on something else, usually joint planning with other staff members.  In this case, the teacher is often there to go over the day with me and to make sure I understand the plans.  In these cases, I am often subjected to "downsplaining", explaining in great detail even minor points about the lesson plans.  One time, a teacher took 5 minutes to tell me how to give a spelling test.  Another time, a teacher took 10 minutes to tell me how to teach an Everyday Math lesson.  I told her that I had been trained specifically in Everyday Math, but she continued to explain the entire lesson anyway.

The fact is, this happens over and over again and it puzzled me why they should feel the need to do this.  I am older, I am a certified teacher (as are all subs in this district), and I feel as though I do not present myself as lacking confidence or needing assurance.  So I looked for other explanations and it seems that mansplaining, if generalized, fills the bill.

Many teachers feel, rightly, that their classrooms are their area of expertise.  When a sub comes in to take over, there are several things that they are thinking of.  One of them is whether the sub can handle the class.  When the teacher thinks of handling the class, though, they are thinking of things that cause them the biggest challenges.  Sometimes these things are new curricula, sometimes planning lessons for areas that are not their strengths, sometimes they are dealing with challenging kids.  They feel that they need to explain over and over again the things that are their own challenges with the class(es).  Even when I assure them that I have a good background in science, they feel the need to explain the science lesson (that is mostly just reading), because THEY are a bit unsure about science. 

But dealing with lesson plans is seldom the biggest worry for me as a sub.  I have subbed and taught for many years.  Giving a spelling test, trust me, is not a difficult proposition, even if the teacher happens to use a different format than standard. 

Oftentimes they are correct about dealing with challenging kids, and I appreciate the hints they give me there.  But, interestingly the things they emphasize are often the things I least need help on.  What I would like to know is who can I call if I need help.  How do I get that person to come to the classroom if I need him/her? 

And, since the teacher him/herself does not worry about special classes (the kids just go when they are supposed to), s/he doesn't list all of the special classes, their times and their durations, and the students who go to them.  If "Joey" just walks out of the room at 10:25, it is no big deal to her, but it is a worry for the sub.

So, I think, actually, mansplaining is a subset of downsplaining, where the person doing the 'splaining assumes that he or she knows more about the subject at hand and needs to explain it in excruciating detail, both to show that he or she is an expert, but also to assert dominance.  The interesting thing to me is that they things they choose to 'splain are often precisely the things that they are a bit shaky on.  Things about which they are confident frequently don't get explained.

And, as an aside, I tried to start a discussion about this topic on the Substitute Teacher Network on LinkedIn, but the owner of the group said that it was "too political" and refused to post it.  I feel censored and may have to quit the group.  He has censored a post of mine before and I agreed to withdraw that one, but now I am feeling that maybe that group isn't right for me.  Too bad, it was giving me some good information. 

Monday, June 24, 2013

Book Reviews Moving to Other Blog

I am in the process of moving my book reviews to one of my other blogs.  That means they will be out of chronological order, but I guess that isn't that important.  This blog will continue to be mostly about education, especially gifted education, and other social issues that interest me.  Book reviews will be in the second blog and personal and unrelated stuff will be in the third (Wordpress) blog.

I am also gradually adding labels (tags) to the posts.  I am not sure how they help, but maybe I will find that they do.

I changed the title of this post to include "Moving" instead of "Moved", as it is taking me longer than I foresaw.

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

There is reading and then there is READING.

This is a reflection on the following post:

There is something I observed recently while subbing. Frequently, teachers will have time in their lesson plans for kids to do silent reading, often called Read to Self, SSR, or some similar acronym. There seem to be two types of readers: the kind who are deeply immersed in books that have mostly text and few illustrations and the kind who are reading either non-fiction, graphic novels, or books with a lot of pictures and very little text. Looking more closely, especially with the non-fiction books, the students who choose to read those are actually doing very little reading. They will look at the pictures and glance at the captions, but they rarely actually read the text. There has been a big push lately to include more non-fiction reading, especially in an attempt to lure boys to do more reading. But from what I can see, this may be backfiring, as readers of non-fiction aren't actually reading much. They ARE getting a lot of information from pictures, but that is a different skill.