Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Midweek Confessions: Playing Dumb

I'm linking up with E, Myself, and I for this week's Midweek Confessions.  Here goes . . . 




I'm blonde.  I'm a woman.  This makes me neither stupid, nor a bad driver, nor mathematically inept.  Why, then, do we sometimes perpetuate stereotypes about ourselves?  

I hate math.  Hate it.  In fact, I detest it so much that I celebrated like it was my birfday when I realized I had finished my last-ever math class.  As a result, I've spent many, many years making disparaging jokes at my own expense.  An example: A kid in my study hall last year asked a fairly simple subtraction question.  My response?  "I don't know; I'm an English teacher."  This has always been fun for me-- it unites me with other math-haters.  Things like this . . . 



and this . . . 


and this . . . 


have always struck me as hilarious.  But here's my dirty little secret-- I'm not really bad at math.  I really don't like it, I don't see its value beyond the basics, and I am glad to never have to do it again-- but I made good grades in math classes.  I understood it fairly easily.  So why do I do that?  Why pretend to lack intelligence?  

This latest revelation comes from an essay my Advanced English 9 students just read, called "Math and After Math," and written by Lensey Namioka.  In it, the a young girl's classmates view her as strange and different because she is a girl who's good at math.  After we read, I had my kids do a class fishbowl discussion about stereotypes.  I asked how many of my (honor student) girls had ever pretended to not "get" something so that they'd feel less different.  Almost all of them raised their hands.  Wow.  I was shocked . . . until I realized that I, too, was guilty of faking it.  Even though my self-deprecation is a joke to me, what kind of example am I setting for the young ladies in my classroom?  

I've become more conscious lately of what I say, especially in the presence of my kids.  It's scary to think about the influence I might have on kids I spend so much time with-- and I am promising myself that I'll do a better job of representing myself from here on out.

We are all guilty of saying things we regret to our students-- please share your stories, so I don't feel so terrible!

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