education

Recent posts

Obstacles To Teaching About Racism And Sexism

Discussing structural racism in the classroom recently made news when a professor who lectured on this topic was reprimanded for making white students feel uncomfortable. The Slate article reporting on this makes a number of excellent points, which I’ll summarize here and apply to other educational situations. Article author Tressie McMillan Cottom points out that “When colleges and universities become a market, there is no incentive to teach what customers would rather not know. When colleges are in the business of making customers comfortable, we are all poorer for it.” We know that gendered and racist micro-inequalities and micro-aggressions persist in academia, which is ironic because the ivory tower is supposed to be a place of free thinkers and intellectual inquiry. Continue Reading →

Clear Teaching Principles and Sex Education

At fellow MSP blogger Kate’s urging, I began to brainstorm ways to apply the clear teaching principles articulated here to sex education. I’ve spent way more time in the university classroom, typically teaching folklore and/or gender studies classes, than I have in the sex ed classroom, so some of this will speculative. If nothing else, I hope it’ll be helpful or thought-provoking. In the aforementioned article, Dan Berrett relates the findings of studies that document a correlation between students’ perception of their professors’ teaching and improvements in student attitudes and performances that follow. The research suggests that these teaching practices can even help ameliorate gaps in skill sets that exist between students at different levels of privilege. Continue Reading →

Science, Gender, And Needlepoint

As a folklorist, one of the areas of human existence I study is material culture. We talk about material culture as culture made material: literally, the objects created by humans that display facets of culture, belief, and worldview. Sometimes we’re interested in the material culture of the present, ranging from handmade works like pottery to re-purposed mass-made objects like scrapbooks or quilts. Like archaeologists, we look at objects of the past, too. Folklore intersects with sex in many ways, and material culture is no exception. Continue Reading →

Transgender Professor Denied Tenure

After completing her transition, a transgender professor was denied tenure and terminated. The professor also experienced harassment specific to her situation: she was told that she could only use one bathroom on the campus, a restriction that was placed on no other faculty member. After her tenure review, the professor was told that the dean and vice president of academic affairs found her “lifestyle” inappropriate, so she was going to be made to leave. There are no transgender anti-discrimination laws in the state of Oklahoma, nor are there specific laws about hate crimes based on gender or sexuality. Thus, there may not be any recourse for the professor, even though the president of academic affairs has openly stated that the professor’s lifestyle “offends his Baptist beliefs.” Continue Reading →

Can Educators Write Erotica?

A high school English teacher has been outed as a romance novelist, leading parents to question whether she’s fit to teach their children. The teacher writes under a pen name, and had not received complaints about the appropriateness of her teaching before someone recognized her from her writing publicity photos. This raises the question: is it appropriate for an educator to also be involved in a profession that involves thinking and writing about sex? One parent complained: “Now my son knows so how is he thinking when he’s sitting in her class knowing what she does on the side.” This isn’t the first situation of its kind: in an earlier MSP post on sex work and academia, I discussed standards of appropriateness specific to the educational workplace. Continue Reading →