Today on Twitter Will Richardson asked about the "Me Too" campaign and how it is playing out in our schools. He asked if we are talking about it with our students. The tweet struck a cord with me and I decided to weigh in.
Growing up as a young woman in the 70's I totally bought into the feminist belief that I could be anything I wanted to be if I just tried hard enough. I believed my gender was immaterial and I set out to create my path ensuring I stayed true to myself. I encountered obstacles, obstacles just because I was a female but I wouldn't allow those obstacles to derail my way forward.
As I watch the "Me Too" campaign grow I realize I was fortunate. I was harassed, treated differently because I was female, ridiculed for being promoted and had rumours spread about me that I must have slept with this supervisor or this Principal but I was never sexually assaulted. I remember feeling helpless in some of these situations, feeling like I had no one to turn to, but I never experienced the depth of victimization being described by so many of the women coming forward.
You might wonder why I am writing about this and it is because I believe in the power of educators to make a difference in the growing issue rising up before us.
In Change.School we talk about inspiring our young people to take control of their learning and create their own answers and solutions to the issues of the day. We debate the meaning of formal schooling and we even wonder if the structure of schools will continue to be a valuable social construct. To this one I say I hope so. I believe schools play a bigger role than just being the place where knowledge acquisition happens, I think it is also one of the most important places for establishing the kind of communities we all want to live in. It is a place where we talk about kindness, empathy, character, equity, and inclusion. I believe it is the place where we need to lay bare the issue of "Me Too."
Gender inequality still remains one of the most pervasive issues of our world. Rape is seen as a weapon of war. Women are still subservient in many of the countries around the globe, pay equity is still a debated issue and in North America where I believed women were viewed as equals, the growing "Me Too" campaign says otherwise.I believe two of the most important things we teach in school, and must continue to teach, are equity and respect. We need to deconstruct with our students the events happening around us, debate issues of gender and unearth deep seated biases. Currently we are surrounded by negative role models and we are desperately in need of a hero. Be the hero, take these issues on. They are Modern Learning issues because the outcome will define the society of the future.