Friday, June 10, 2011

Talking Points #4: QUOTES; Meyer "Gendered harassment in secondary schools"

Artist, Keith Haring was gay and died of AIDS.  His visual messages are powerful!

The article by Meyer about gendered harassment discusses why this unacceptable behavior is happening in our schools and why teachers don't intervene every time they encounter it.  As I read through the article, several of this courses themes came up.  First was the dominant ideology of SCWAAMP, which I connected to twice, Johnson's article, which addresses talking about issues to work through them, and the card game we played in class relating to Delpit's "codes of power."  All of these themes connect to Meyer's gendered harassment investigation and how it is influenced by the culture of the school.  Meyer states that specifically there are institutional/formal influences + social/informal influences = "school culture" or our external factors.  These influences permeate into us and are filtered based on our internal influences.  The outcome is our own response and perception to situations.  Meyer states that it is the lack of support by our administrators and lack of intervention by our colleagues that prevents a school's culture to change.

Meyer believes that the root of gendered harassment, "is the hegemony of heteronormative patriarchy that constructs dominant notions of sex, gender and sexual orientation in very oppressive ways."  The dominant ideology that is most valued in America's culture is represented through the acronym SCWAAMP.  It stands for: straight, Christian, white, able-bodied, American, male, property owner.  What Meyer is saying is that our culture is negatively affected by these men who set the 'norms' or natural roles that we 'should' have in life.  Meyer uses this quote to set the stage for her argument that the problem start here.  People/students that don't share in these 'norms' are made into outcasts.  Meyer is wondering why equality for these students is not present 100% of the time when they go to school.

Meyer says that in evaluating her research it showed "a trend of teachers not trusting their administrators to support their actions and the feeling that they have to handle most non-violent discipline issues alone."  These teachers also felt that their schools had "a strong a clear response to any kind of physical violence, but in terms of verbal harassment or other forms of psychological torment, they felt that administration did not want to be bothered by these issues."   What Meyer's is saying through her research is that most vice-principals and principals confront issues of physical violence, yet dodge more sensitive issues that are harder to 'see.'  I found this interesting, yet believable.  It is almost like it would turn into a meeting with the vice-principal about 'they said, I said' and negotiating over what expired.  It would be a very drawn out process, whereas, physical violence is usually immediately identifiable or 'seen' when a fight breaks out or maybe captured on camera or witnessed by faculty/admin.  In these cases, it is easily dealt with.  Students fight and its an automatic 5 day external suspension at my high school.  I've never heard of an instance of being suspended over gendered harassment issues in my school though.  I know bullying needs to be reported- its a state law that came into effect this year.

"By only acting within the micro-structure of their classroom when dealing with behavior issues rather addressing the macro structures of the school, they are extremely limited in what they can do to improve student safety and school climate."  Meyer goes on to say that "every single participant spoke of a personal commitment to challenging bias in the classroom."  I think that it is imperative for the change to start in each teacher's classroom culture/environment.  We, as teachers, need to be role models for each of our students.  Even though its a battle that we can't do alone in an entire school, its a start.  In my classroom, I don't allow any form of harassment to exist with my community.  Teachers have to be accountable and conscientious of what is being 'learned' in the classroom as 'acceptable behavior.'  We need to step up and teach these students tolerance.  It is also hard to enforce consistency amongst a school of teachers because we are all 'leaders' and do it our own way. 

Maybe I speak so easy about this because I don't work in an urban school district, where a lot of social issues exist.  It was hard for me to relate entirely to these teachers because, I can get through my lessons.  Honestly, it kind of made me angry when one said "sometimes as a teacher I just want to ignore it...when I have TOO much to do...we gotta get through this lesson."  Skipping over harassment issues ends up sending out a message to your students during your lesson anyways.  So now you are breeding intolerance.

"a Prinicpal's priorities and attitudes towards issues permeate the school and shape the culture." AND "it really depends on your Vice Principal.  They basically set up according to their beliefs.  Their policies reflect a lot about them and how they deal with it."  Administration does set the tone for the school's culture.  They are the ones who hold the power and dish out the consequences when rules are broken.  I agree with one teacher who said that administration determines what is important based on their own belief system and morals.  Some issues are just more important than others to them; which behaviors they tolerate in the schools dictates the culture they create. 

On that note, Meyer says that it is the administrative leaders that need to initiate the school culture's of transformation.


  1. Great blog! I loved your visuals. I thought the quotes you chose from the reading were powerful. I agree that administration plays a big part in this issue.

  2. PS Thanks Meyer is a woman lol oops.. I will be fixing my blog.

  3. I agree with Brigette, great use of visuals. I liked how you connected Meyer to Johnson, Delpit and SCWAAMP.

  4. Nice overview of the also made me angry reading that teachers look over things because its easier......That's just wrong...

  5. Great job explaining the quotes you highlighted! I like how you related them all to SCWAAMP...It's amazing how the administration often lacks giving the teachers support. It makes you really think if everyone values the SCWAAMP personality more than other personalities...

  6. Nice blog. I agree with the above comments: great visuals, and powerful quotes. Great job connecting the previous authors to this one.

  7. Michaela:

    I love the artwork and visuals you use.