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 5th Dimension and Stereotypes 
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Joined: Tue Aug 22, 2006 1:41 pm
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I was moving some of my files just now and bumped into one of my journals from 5th D where I first noticed gender, age, and other stereotypes in teaching.

In a journal to Dr. Oldendorf (ain't he great!) in October, I wrote about Ruth (psuedoname, remember those? :) a girl who I was mentoring that day. I wrote that "[Ruth] always stood next to me; flush next, without regard to my or her bubbles of personal space. At first I felt like I should step away" because I "[grew up] in a 'bubble-conservative' family" where "my mother and I rarely crossed tactile lines". But I concluded that Ruth's mother or family must be more comfortable communicating by touch, so I let her stand next to me.

Two weeks later I wrote Dr. O a follow up journal entry about another experience with Ruth. I wrote: "[the site coordinator] looked at me and said, 'There ya'll are. What game is that?' What an odd way to interrupt, and it disturbed my otherwise focused search for a worthy word (Ruth was winning)." We were playing 3-D scrabble at the far corner of the library. "[The site coordinator] drifted away as mysteriously as she arrived. ... The inference of this interruption dawned on me, ... There I sat with a girl somewhat older than her peers and closer to my age than other students, at a table deserted from everyone. ... [The side coordinator] needed to appraise a male mentor sitting with a young girl playing a game of scrabble." I had not noticed my gender and age or Ruth's gender or age ... the game was rather distracting, you know?

I cannot express how much the site coordinator's glare so quickly and firmly reversed my previous acceptance of closer student-teacher bubbles and genderless interaction. I made several changes to my previous, more open-minded conclusion about student-teacher bubbles and gender. I decided that societal stereotypes demand more public areas for student-teacher bubbles instead of sitting together in the corner, and that teachers who are men should interract with girls in even closer proximity to groups, like sitting where everyone else was playing games in the library. That glare has since kept me intrenched in the opinion that I should never touch students and that I should always treat students who are girls different -- more distant or something -- from guys. It was a sad journal entry ...

Why did the site coordinator interrupt that way? was I breaking down too many barriers?

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Justin Pittman


Fri Nov 10, 2006 2:38 am
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