Friday, March 23, 2012

Heads and hearts

Dr. Jennifer Bryan's visit to Parker gave us a transforming day and a half.  She explored issues with parents, faculty and students about stereotypes that we deal with everyday and how those stereotypes affect gender and sexuality identity.  As Parker K-1 teacher Liliana puts it,

The impact of stereotypes on gender identity is more profound than you can ever imagine and comes up in the classroom more often than you might think.  Here are a few examples: “Girls can wear pink and blue but boys can’t ever wear pink.”  ”You got a pink (or purple) paper? That’s for girls.” “Boys are better at building.”  ”You look like a girl.” (to a boy.)  ”Boys have more muscles.”  ”Girls are smarter.”  And so on…

Children are vitally concerned with figuring out who they are and if and how they fit in.  By using their powers of critical thinking they can learn to better navigate messages from the media, our culture and peers while holding on to a strong sense of self. 

Jennifer read stories and held discussions in each classroom.  At a final meeting with teachers she said she found Parker students - middle school students in particular - to be hungry learners.  "Parker kids are thinking critically and have media literacy. They are curious and informed, expressing an understanding of religion, culture, and the constitution in a sophisticated way.  They bring both their heads and hearts to the discussion."

Dr. Bryan's new book is being published this month: From The Dress Up Corner To The Senior Prom: Navigating Gender and Sexuality Diversity in PreK-12 Schools.

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