7 Responses to “Teacher comics: Gender identifiers”
Wow–so true. And it’s really subtle. I had a teacher once who was very respectful of everyone, but when he told a story about a male student, it always started “I had a student who…”, and if it was a story about a female student it always started “There was a girl/young woman in my class who…”. It was a couple months before I even noticed, but when I did it made the whole class feel a bit strange.
As a sub with 4 schools, I am constantly at a loss for names. I try to tell them that if I call them Scooter, Boss, Sir, Maam, Alice, or Bob, it is only because I don’t want to say “Hey you”. Now my kids, pre-k through 8th, think it is hilarious when I call on a male with “Alice”, or a female with “Sir”. One pre-k addressed me as “Bob”, stating that he didn’t know my name. I told him it was “Mr. Bob” when addressing adults. Now that entire school calls me Mr. Bob. My name is Dean. Oh, well.
I get Honey any maybe Girl in certain contexts but what us wrong with Lady? A Lady is a strong , self confident woman with class .Is its male counterpart Gentleman a weak term? I think this issue its more about context and culture. For instance, in the south Ma’am is used as a show of respect. I have been chewed out for using the term elsewhere.While saying Men and Girls shows bias. I don’t see how there is anything inherently diminutive about being a girl. Perhaps we need to examine why it is felt that term is seen as inferior.
I can see the man/girl issue, but I find it vaguely disturbing that female identifiers are classed as weak.
The teacher I had who was most respected by his students in jr/sr high school refered to his students as “Ladies and Gentlemen” or “Sir” and “Mam”. He was far from archaic and was one of the few adults who spoke to us as equals. He was the sort of teacher you never forget. Nearly 15 years later I still find myself thinking about the discussions that happened in his class. In fact, this subject is the sort of thing he would happily facilitate a debate on for an entire period. Then again, he was tenured and it was pre-NCLB.
I have always wanted to be the type of teacher who says “Sir” and “Ma’am” but I don’t think I can get away with that kind of formality with my students. Formality is NOT a bad thing in the least and I wish I could do it more, but it’s just not my style. I’m glad those teachers are out there though.