Author Archives: Katie Jones

Fake-ish News

Something that has recently been brought to my attention, yet again, is the idea that social media has made us less sensitive to the issues that are plaguing our world day in and day out. Of course, the tragic shooting at Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida has brough this to light. I for one think that the fact students were able to document what they went through was extremely important. Even if the only thing that comes from it is the fact that it is forcing people to notice that gun control is a serious issue in the states.

The main point of this post was to highlight a trend of virtual sympathy; to bring forward the issue of passive compassion. For too long the day after mass shootings, and there are many to choose from, consist of ‘thoughts and prayers’. Although it’s nice that we say we will keep these tragedies at heart and try to prevent them; when is this issue actually going to be dealt with? The US has an obsession with with The Right to bear arms even though this was put into action when guns could only shoot one bullet at a time. It makes perfect sense for the 1800s.

Thus we get back to my point of passive compassion. These people are able to deny the consequences of the second amendment because they simply don’t know the impacts of it. Take the Parkland example; so many survivors are being ridiculed for posting videos of the attack, but in that moment of panic and fear it makes perfect sense to want something familiar and that you can control. The real issue here is not that people can see these videos, it’s that some people don’t. More accurately, they scroll past. I’ve watched the videos and they are nothing less than horrifying but I’m glad I’ve seen them. There is now no doubt in my mind that the US needs to, at the very least, have more regulations on gun ownership.

We now have the ability to scroll past the things we don’t like and only pay attention to the parts of the world we want to see. We are in complete control of the news we receive and thus can build up an entirely false picture of what it’s like to be in the 21st century.

For example, a few weeks ago I logged on to twitter and was bombarded with pictures and jokes about Courtney Act’s shocking entrance in to the Celebrity Big Brother house. When I brought it up with my sister she had absolutely no idea what I was talking about or even who Courtney Act is. Something that is important to you can be an area of ignorance for someone else and unfortunately we all have the chance to live in complete ignorance even though we are constantly surrounded by the news.

I too, am guilty of this. If I see something that scares me or upsets me I simply don’t watch it. Of course that doesn’t mean that these things aren’t happening. Surely it is better to know and to take the world exactly as it is rather than live in a protected bubble where only good things happen. The world isn’t made up of GIFs of famous drag queens losing their skirts on live television and we need to be aware of the real troubles we face as a community. I don’t just mean school shootings. I mean poverty, abuse, natural disasters and corrupt governments. This may not be what you want to see online on your lunch break but it’s happening and we cannot ignore it. Be in controll of your knowledge about the world. Don’t close yourself off from what actually goes on outside your device.

Year of the Woman

This year marks 100 years since women gained the right to vote in the UK.

This was a monumental point in history. The suffragettes forged the way for us to make this world an equal place. If we all exercised our right to vote we could achieve true equality; not even just on the bases of binary gender but for all people. If we all have a say in who runs the country we live in and if we can choose people that will make the right choices for us all, then there would be no inequality.

That’s a very broken down solution (of course we need to educate people on the importance of equality) but it rings true. Surely we don’t want to end up being a world superpower with a bigoted, sexist, heteronormative and xenophobic leader…

International Women’s March 2017. Topeka, Kansas.

Women are still not considered equal to men. You might think that this is a harsh statement because all of your male friends treat you with as much value as they do with other men but that isn’t equality. Many men, and women, go about their daily lives without any thought to the fact that women have to work harder and for longer to get the same pay as men or that they may not get the job in the first place because they have the capability to have children. A lot of men would question why girls feel the need to go to the toilet in groups or wait with each other for the taxi that only one of them is getting.

Feminism is a word people are scared of because of those stories you here about hating men and burning bras but the only thing feminism means, and it’s really quite simple, is equality. Yes it focuses on women at this stage because women are the ones who have been oppressed in this patriarchal society for centuries. That does not mean that any feminist would say that men are better off in all aspects because we know that isn’t true. You have to accept that our priorities right now are, understandably, things like dissolving rape culture; which does impact women more than men. We acknowledge that it does happen to men, that is where the equality part comes in, and we are trying to bring this to light.

Feminism is for everyone. It’s about giving each person the same opportunity as the next. Women don’t want to dictate everything you do, we just want to be able to do everything you can do. We want equal rights, we want equal pay and we want control over our bodies without judgement.

If there is one person who can explain it better than I can, it would be Australian Idol superstar, Drag Race alumna and winner of Celebrity Big Brother Year of the Woman; Courtney Act. Please watch this clip, start thinking and be a part of a very feminist future!

This is not a disclaimer.

After reading some friends’ blogs (Kara and Blaze) I decided that it was time to do my own, extremely belated, “National Coming out day” post.

You can probably guess what my main point is going to be, you have probably read a number of blog posts about how straight people don’t have to ‘come out’ and how it is (and it really is) totally unfair considering that the sexual orientation of someone should have literally no impact on how you live your life. Alas it is a topic that is becoming even more relevant with the rise of certain ‘politicians’. I cannot speak (or type) for every member of the LGBTQ+ community and my experiences will be different from the next person’s. What I can speak for is the injustice of the situation.

Having to have a disclaimer prepared for every person you meet must be exhausting. The fear of how they will take it and if it will change the relationship. You have to become a master of timing to know when is the appropriate stage to ‘break the news’ (as if it is a negative). Will they think of you differently? Will they still want to be in your life? Will they even care? I have adopted the approach of not having a disclaimer. It may be that until you say otherwise you are assumed to be straight but honestly, for me, there are worse things to be called. I like the idea of people not knowing until they literally see you in a relationship with someone. I am aware that this is my privilege talking and that for some there is a very real fear of people ever finding out, that their family will disown them or that they might get arrested because homosexuality is illegal in some places.

The reality is that people have a right to disclose this information when, how and if they want to. The most important being ‘If’. As much as I would love for everyone to be able to be 100% unapologetically themselves, I know that society isn’t ready for this yet. It breaks my heart but for now that’s how it is. If we want change then we need to get our priorities in order. We have more important things to focus on than whether I’m gay or bi or pan. Maybe I don’t know yet and that’s okay too. It is not a big deal.

If you can’t love yourself…

One of the most important parts of being a teacher, at any stage in your career, is reflection. Anyone looking into teacher education does so with the knowledge that they will always be learning; both in terms of the curriculum areas and in terms of bettering themselves to ensure the best outcome for the children they teach.

Today we were tasked with writing a post reflecting on something from our first semester that has impacted our professional development. My first instinct was to write about my slightly disappointing assignment grade for the Values module. A completely average and perfectly acceptable grade for my first university essay but one I was not happy with. I could write for days about how this will make me a stronger essay writer and how getting used to receiving criticism will make me a stronger teacher. However, I feel like this is the obvious choice. When I really started to reflect on last semester, I realised that the essay isn’t the thing that has impacted my professional development the most; I am.

Allow me to explain. I feel like I have made so much progress even just after the first semester. A lot of it is to do with personal goals to about confidence and self worth but of course they will impact my teaching just as much as some academic goals. I have grown in terms of what I believe my abilities to be which is something I’ve always put myself down for. This growth makes me want to learn more and makes me excited for the future rather than scared of it. This is going to make me a better teacher because I finally feel like I can be good at it and also because I now understand that if we can make children enjoy school and find it interesting they will want to learn; and ultimately do better. If we want better academic results and motivation from children we need to make them more willing to learn. This comes from higher levels of confidence and self worth. Of course I already knew this but now I understand it.

This is why I hugely value the curriculum areas that focus on bettering the child personally. RME and PSHE are extremely important to me because we can use them as a means to build the child up from a personal level; not based on ability. We have the chance to make children feel like they are worth something and this is why I want to be a teacher.

 

The importance of the ‘+’

If there is one thing I’ll always care about it’s the LGBTQ+ community. A community on the rise without a doubt but one that is still far too under represented in almost all aspects of our daily lives. Our hetero-normative world is often guilty of overlooking such a vibrant part of our society and even some of those who do pay attention don’t fully understand what they are paying attention to.

LGBTQIAP

  • Lesbian
  • Gay
  • Bisexual
  • Trans
  • Queer, Questioning
  • Intersex
  • Asexual
  • Pansexual

This acronym is constantly changing to be as inclusive as possible and it’s not there yet. These letters don’t even begin to cover all the possibilities but that is why we have the ‘+’. I can’t even begin to explain how I feel when people only use the first four letters; I know it’s a mouthful to say, and the ‘+’ seems unnatural, but in not saying it you exclude whole groups of people.

There are many debates over this acronym to do with the order of the letters and what letters are in it but the one used above is the most common. For many it’s the word as a whole, LGBTQ+, that matters. It gives a name to a community that for such a long amount of time, wasn’t allowed to be spoken of.

The issue many people have with ‘LGBTQ+’ is the definitions. It’s constantly retaliated with “What does it actually mean?” and “Doesn’t that mean ______ is the same as ______?”. The only advice I can give you is to stop getting so hung up on the little things. Many people will have a different definition that resonates with them. Two people might identify as queer but mean it in totally different ways and that is just something you have to accept. LGBTQ+ is an umbrella term for anyone who is not heterosexual/cisgender. It’s not a swear word. We are allowed to say it in front of children. It needn’t be a cause for embarrassment.

LGBT is four letters meaning four things but by adding the ‘Q+’ you open it up to be so much more. It is now more inclusive and one letter doesn’t necessarily only stand for one thing. Take Trans for example; an umbrella term in itself. Transgender can be someone who has transitioned to another gender or someone who identifies as another gender but feels no need to physically transition. Some who display characteristics that are stereotypical of a gender other than what they were assigned at birth may also identify as trans. This isn’t textbook learning. There is no one answer and we have to be okay with that.

We need to use the whole word, ‘+’ and all. Let’s be more progressive, let’s be more inclusive, let’s be more open minded.

Better late than never…

Last week I clicked on our required reading to find out that it was about gender and how it is now seen to be nothing more than a social construct. I was ecstatic! These are topics I have always found extremely interesting and relevant. I read through it with joy and couldn’t wait for the seminar. However, and I regret to inform you, it was not up to par with some of the other lectures for this module.

Allow me to explain; there was absolutely nothing wrong with the seminar itself. It was interesting and raised many very important points about how we, as humans, have an unnecessary need to categorise people; a topic I am all too familiar with. My issue was exactly that. I felt like I was too familiar with it, I felt it was almost a step back for me. The majority of the room was engrossed in the points being made; it opened their eyes to how the way we treat children in relation to gender roles influences how they grow up and what they consider to be ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ and ‘masculine’ and ‘feminine’. There were passionate discussions about sexuality and ‘the norm’ and for a second I felt angry. Angry that people were only now really realising now how big these issues are and yet, for some, they are the only ones that matter.

Don’t get me wrong I stand by the seminar. If it can change even one person’s views to make them a more open minded individual then I support it wholeheartedly; especially for those going into a childcare profession. My worry is that for some, this is the first time they have questioned these constructs and as a future teacher this has always been something I want to change.

I don’t want things like gender and sexuality to be something you have revelations about. It should be common knowledge. We should all already know that people are people and love is love. We should have already accepted that none of us fit perfectly into the boxes of gender; most of us pick and choose some ‘masculine’ and ‘feminine’ traits. As for sexuality, the point that “everyone is, at the very least, unintentionally homophobic” struck a very hurtful chord for me as someone who actively tries to promote every form of equality in everything I do. Someone mentioned that we all use homophobic language as insults even though I have never called someone or something “gay” in a negative way. When the issue of gender non-conforming people being thought of as “abnormal” was brought up and the replies, although positive and open minded, were basic and repetitive it annoyed me. The constant spiel of “we are all the same on the inside” and “it doesn’t impact who you are as a person” really makes me think how far we have yet to go. I hate to break it to you but this isn’t equality.

The reason I want to be a teacher is to teach children from a young age that these things are normal. I don’t want them to have big revelations at 18 where they realise that they didn’t need to bully that child for being gay or black or mentally disabled. I don’t want people in 10 years time to be studying at university level and to be realising that people deserve rights and protection and a place to go to the toilet. I want it to be common knowledge. I want it to be taught for so long that it would never even occur to them to give a second glance, even unconsciously, to the gay couple walking down the street holding hands. I want a society where I didn’t have to mention that the couple was gay.

The solution is education.

The gender stereotypes and heteronormativity of society are, in my opinion, the worst part of 21st century living. Extreme? Perhaps not as much as you think. A lot of issues we deal with now are a result of these. Now clearly I cannot relate things like poverty and world hunger to the fragile concept masculinity but I could make list upon list of issues that do.

Take America for a rather upsetting example. If we abolished the concept of gender everything would be different. For starters there might be a person of proper qualifications in power. If not, there may at least be a society where people are not excluded and dehumanised to protect the straight white cisgendered man from a threat only he can see. This, although incredibly important and something everyone should consider, is not the point of this post.

Like I’ve mentioned, I want to be a teacher so this issue hits home for me because it tears me apart to think that society is forcing children into roles they don’t want to play. For many the concept of gender means absolutely nothing but to some it means everything. If a child in my class wants to identify as something different than their biological sex then it would be absolutely detrimental for them to have one of the first people they meet, that represents a position of power, to tell them that their choice is not valid.

If I were to persuade children to play with toys that corresponds with their genitalia then that is creating boundaries. Even if I am the only person in that child’s life to enforce gender roles; that is going to change them. Why can’t we change them for the good? Why do we have to obsess over what boys can and cannot do? Why do we teach girls to be submissive? Why do we have to categorise and oppress? Why can’t we just teach them to be good people? I don’t mean we teach them that some people are gay and that’s okay. I mean teach them that each person is different from the next and to just have a little compassion.

Teaching equality from an early age would eradicate so many forms of prejudice. Hatred is taught so let’s teach love instead. These issues are too important to ignore but don’t just listen; do something. Actively endorse change. Correct people, use gender neutral terms, start thinking of people as nothing less than people. However they choose to break down their personal identity is up to them; don’t try to sway them to do it your way. Learn from the past, focus on what is actually important. Why does it matter to you if John Lewis abolished the gender labels on their kids clothes? You do you and let them do them. Get over it; it’s not a big deal.