Students’ make voices heard
Some of our Year 9 students’ have penned letters to the Japanese Minister after the Japenese government passed a ruling for companies. The companies can now enforce dress codes requiring women to wear high heels at work. And that hasn’t gone down well with our students’ who feel this unfair. So, with the support of Ms Matloob, the students’ wrote compelling letters that have now been sent Shinzō Abe. The work completed has featured in our local paper The Sentinel.
The thinking behind all of this came from English teacher Ms Matloob.
“The thinking behind a focus on the #KuToo movement derived from my own feminist beliefs – a result of the patriarchal culture in which I was bought up and the setbacks I worry about facing as an ethnic minority female despite living in 21 st century Britain. As a result of my own experiences and those of the women I have been surrounded by for most of my life I deemed it essential to make my classroom one that is built on the foundation of feminist thinking. Combing my love of teaching with my love of fighting for gender equality has proved particularly effective with my top set Year 9 class. A feminist classroom, for me, is one where everyone’s views and questions are heard and responded to; one in which everyone receives opportunities to work through and question their thoughts. What started off as simply an area of interest, ended up becoming a vital part of reading and understanding texts in an English classroom. Having seen first-hand the effect of feminist practices being implemented in students’ work and thinking has made feminism readings vital in shaping a learning atmosphere where students can engage in critical analysis of course materials while challenging existing notions and discourses. The first step towards creating a feminist classroom was by creating a democratic classroom wherein we acknowledge, accept and work with the diverse beliefs of all students. Students are not valued (only) on grades but on a belief in their inherent value as people. Such a classroom has encouraged students to acknowledge their right to speak out. Our classroom establishes a program of open discussion allowing students to provide their own inputs. This has allowed students to enter into conversations and explore each other’s ideas as equals. Encouraging students to have open minds has changed their perspective and enabled them to view texts and contemporary society more open-mindedly and add depth to their analysis of not only characters and relationships in literature but also real life issues as a result of gender inequality- one of those being the recent #KuToo movement that has taken social media (and Year 9) by storm.”
Here are some of the letters in full.
Ms Matloob said: “I want the students to feel as if their voice matters. Students are not valued only on grades but on their inherent value as people. Such a classroom has encouraged students to acknowledge their right to speak out.”