Little_Mavis' rants and musings


Is Patriarchy throwing a final tantrum?

There is a general adage in childcare manuals (see pg 12 here pdf) that if you take steps to correct bad behaviour, things will get worse before they get better. This seems especially noticeable if it is a behaviour they have been previously getting away with. You can imagine the mental workings on this.

“But they let me do this yesterday, why won’t they let me do it today?”

“That’s not fair. I like doing it.”

“They don’t mean it do they? They love me. Why won’t they let me do what I want?”

So. They repeat the behaviour. And you carry on with whatever form of discipline you’ve chosen. If the behaviour persists, you may step up your discipline a notch. You may move from 5 minutes time out to sending to their room. (Not my approach but a popular one)

Sometimes this appears to work. Behaviour settles, you relax on the discipline and things seem to be progressing just fine.

Then They go to school, or make a new friend and they discover that their friend appears to be allowed to do the thing you have successfully stopped them from doing. So they begin a campaign to return to their previous, preferred state where they could demand toys or hit their little sister, or whatever. And you repeat your original reaction, But now, they’re older, and bigger and they have their new friend egging them on. It’s harder this time round, and it isn’t helped by their friend’s parent telling you that this behaviour doesn’t matter. In fact, it’s just fine, children need to stand up for themselves in this hurly-burly world.

Ultimately, if you believe in a world where children (not all children) do not go around taking anything they want and hitting other children they do not like, you need to persist. Sometimes in the face of criticism from other parents.

So. Where am I going with this?

Just now, women seem to be fighting many of the battles that I thought we had won ages ago and part of me wonders if it is just that men (not all men), or patriarchy throwing their renewed tantrums to try to regain what they believe they have lost. They have been forced to accept equality in so many ways but they are still fighting back in a different way. For women to be equal we must become like them, because that is how you become successful. I honestly thought we had gone through all of this, as I said, years ago. I remember discussions and articles about how having women in business and in charge would change the narrative. I thought it was happening but somehow we are being dragged back to this.

Yes, women can be tough. But we shouldn’t need to be tough in the way that has been defined in the past by men. I’m not an expert on feminism or history but I want to be allowed to be who I want to be. And I want men to have that option too.

I don’t want to see life solely as a competition and like it or not, for historical reasons we do see competition as masculine and cooperation as feminine. And even if you reject those labels, in an evolutionary sense, it makes sense. We need to embrace both aspects to be successful as a human community.

This blog was prompted by Twitter discussions and by this blog and its follow-up from @sue_cowley


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We’re all Different

Very short post in response to discussions on Twitter & reports from .

  • Children are all different
  • Schools are all different
  • Classes are all different
  • Teachers are all different

What works for one teacher in one school in one class might not work for another teacher with the same class or the same teacher with a different class. And, importantly, what works for a senior teacher may not work for someone newer, or of a different gender or personality.

I’ve blogged before about this but seem not to have got my point across. I don’t especially object to the current swing towards more traditional methods of teaching & direct instruction. I realise that some teachers are more comfortable with delivering like this and some students (myself included) are happy with this way of being taught.

What I do think is important is not to dictate a single method of delivery in all circumstances. It removes the ability to focus on what works for you in a given school/class in a particular situation.

I left teaching a few years ago under a cloud. I was deemed to be ineffective, although my results were absolutely fine when compared to the national picture when teaching a course new to me and way above when I had been teaching another course for several years. Like many before me, I jumped before I was pushed.One of the things that upset them (& by them I really mean my Head of Department) was that I didn’t do things like they did. I wanted to treat students the way I had wanted to be (& mostly was) treated as a student. We paid lip service to the idea that we should take an interest in them as people but in reality that was superficial, on the level of “Which team do you support?”.

Looking back after several years away I’m beginning to gain a little perspective on the whole affair. I’m beginning to accept that I wasn’t a crap teacher, I was honest & I worked hard for the benefit of my students…. definitely the students rather than the establishment I think. What I haven’t yet regained is any trust in my own judgement. Before I left, after sick leave and while under the cloud of performance management/monitoring (I can’t remember what they called it, that time is now hazy), I reached a point where I just wouldn’t make any decision on the grounds that whatever I decided, I would be told I was wrong. That persists, and I get the impression, with the current ways of measuring schools and teachers that many others may well be doing the same. If we insist on children being taught in one single fixed way (and the fact that the method dictated keeps changing ought to be enough to make us wary), we are stifling the average teacher’s ability to make judgements and decisions and education, as a whole, will be the poorer for it.

Mavericks will always exist, and not all of them will be like SMW. I’m grateful they do. I know of some of them. They’re braver than I am. I wish now I’d stayed and fought, but at the time, I didn’t have their strength. I’m grateful they exist.  I’d list some but I’ve got to go out now. I’ll add later. But they’re important, we need to listen to them. Don’t swallow “We must all do this because this is the one true way” It rarely is!