Whether you’re confronted with sexist, racist or homophobic attitudes in your classroom, or you’re teaching lessons from textbooks full of gender stereotypes, it can be hard to reconcile your classes with your personal beliefs.
When I arrived at the Hydro bar, the women, who were wearing fashionable dresses and smart suits, were giggling nervously as they put on badges with a number on them. “Maybe my jeans are a bad idea”, I thought. I chatted to other people while we waited…The men included a chef, a banker, a photographer, an engineer, a management consultant, and a novelist. They were just pleased they could stop having to try to chat up strangers in bars. ‘It’s so hard to meet girls in London,’ said one man. ‘You can’t talk to girls at salsa classes,’ said another. Matt, 28, said, ‘After doing this one I got several dates.’
Examples such as the one above from New English File implicitly reinforce gender stereotypes. The women are described in terms of the way they’re dressed, but the men are all described by their profession. The women “giggle nervously” but the men all have the opportunity to give their opinion.
Teaching English according to feminist principles can be viewed in the context of human rights education. In a progressive classroom, teachers discourage discriminatory attitudes towards women and minorities, and you can reinforce this through your choice of topics when lesson planning, perhaps giving your students a chance to see things from a different perspective, while at the same time improving their English, of course!
What resources are you planning to use today for International Women’s Day?