It was in the middle of Recess that an epiphany which would not be explained until today,
became of an observation made between the cinder-block walls of a middle school gym in Astoria, a month ago.
On assignment to substitute PE, it was the first time any of the students at Our World Neighborhood Charter School had encountered the burly man I sport a track suit on; My presence a mere assistance to several other staff persons supervising that period, they swatted by me like I was some discarded couch on the curb ((it wouldn’t be hyperbole to imagine some climbing up on and jumping off of, running and rolling over me)).
*THE ‘they’, It had occurred me at some point in the mix of the organized confusion, wasn’t comprising of them all. While the girls just as the boys, could’ve given less of a matter about me lurking ajar, they, UNlike the boys, didn’t have me dodging an aimless nerf ball or breaking up play fights on the ground. There was nary even a parting from the cipher they had wrapped themselves tightly into down the far end of the bench. There may have been a girl or three participating in one of the basket ball games, but the overwhelming majority of ’em had congregated to brush one another’s hair, and chat.
I was witnessing a whole ‘nother dynamic than the one I had facilitated supervising k through 3, is what I realized, processing a drastic transition in the inference of gender roles, to the direction our prevailing culture of Womanhood finds itself, positioned in relation to that of men. After-all, k-3’er girls to my recalling, activate just as much, if not more than the boys do between the time equipment comes out and the whistle blows.
I took that home with me, have carried the dichotomy to subsequent assignments which revealed the same duality: at around the 5th, 6th, 7th grade level, girls, become ‘girls’ (or, the sexist projection we learn to expect them into). That was a month ago when ‘it hit me’. But of course, a man depending on the conditioned perspective of a man, will always lead that man to make such an uninformed assertion…
Well today I was informed! Girls Preparatory Middle School on the Lower East Side (a school where classes are named after historical icons such as Eleanor Roosavelt and Maya Angelou. In a building where feminism is a site word binding quotes stretched across the tiles at each turn down the hall). It was my first day today of what I’ve been promised a subbing gig that will likely run into mid-January. An all-girls school, where I’ll be teaching Physical Education. An all-girls school where-in each class past the last it crystallized all the more clear for me my first day
that it was never a matter of girls NATURALLY becoming ‘girls’, . …But rather, an issue of how there prevail underlying factors that pressure an inverse experience per Men and Women (in this case, girls and boys) in co-sexed spaces.
In seeing the difference in behavior between the students of these two schools *I REALLY GOT*, how these factors are so profound they re-enforce the expectations of our societal norms, from the moment we are introduced to them as children. And of course, that’s the conversation on how: modeled in our homes and communities, from our televisions and radios; implicit in every custom from a wedding to a half-time football show; are the do’s and dont’s our children will internalize and act out, in the most typical fashions.
…THESE junior high aged Sisters, weren’t the Sisters I observed last month! These girls today were chasing and racing, pushing and pulling, wrestling and shooting the ball around with the freedom of most boys their age…
Meditate on that for a minute…
Consider what it says about Our World..
Consider what it says about freedom, that the same girl who will hole up in the presence of boys; subordinate her talents and efforts ___ Flourishes when told that it is all about her.
Consider that maybe we as boys, never have to worry about feeling free to be ___ because from a very young age, where girls are pulled back, we are pushed forth to in the subtlest ways believe, it is all about (we) ?
As a man what role do you see yourself playing in the maturation of the children you encounter in light of these revelations?
I will leave you with the observation I just shared. I refrain from delving any deeper because, just as it were a snap and a hmm.. that brought me to such a realization, something brief and anecdotal may spark the same for you.
But stay tuned to The Brother Man blog because I will definitely be touching back on this subject.
Before you leave me check out some of the following statistics on single-sex schools:
(((( National Coalition for Girls Schools and The Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA 2009)))
- Students from single-sex schools are more likely to engage in group study, with a full 53% of independent single-sex graduates reporting that they study with other students on a frequent basis, compared with 45% among independent coeducational graduates.
- Nearly two-thirds (65%) of women graduates of independent single-sex schools report frequently or occasionally tutoring other students in high school, compared with 58% among women who attended independent coeducational schools
- Nearly 60% of women graduates of independent single-sex schools rate themselves “above average” or in the “highest 10 percent” with regard to intellectual self-confidence, compared to 54% of their independent coeducational school counterparts.
- Women graduates of single- sex schools are more likely than their coeducational counterparts to report that there is a very good chance they will participate in student clubs or groups while they are in college (70% anticipate involvement in campus organizations, compared to 60% of coeducational alumnae).
- Female graduates of single-sex schools are more likely than their coeducational counterparts to discuss politics in class and with friends. Political engagement is especially strong at independent schools, where 58% of women graduates of single-sex institutions report that it is “very important” or “essential” for them to keep up to date with political affairs, compared to 48% of women graduates of independent coeducational schools.